Eventually, Hardy's the man
By Tyler Dunne
Everyone's kind of waiting for that the 6-foot-6 frame to take over.
The wait's been long and unfulfilling so far, but sooner or later, James Hardy is going to bust out. Rookie wide receivers do not blossom overnight. At some point this season, Hardy will emerge as Buffalo's bonafide No. 2 receiving option opposite of speed demon Lee Evans.
Amidst blown assignments and freshman mistakes, Bills backers must realize how difficult the transition is for rookie wide receivers. Hardy's system at Indiana allowed him to rely on his sheer physical ability i.e. 36 touchdowns in 36 games, a Gretzky-like scoring rate.
Once Hardy's head catches up to Turk Schonert's diversified offense, his athletic ability should easily trump the experience of Roscoe Parrish and Josh Reed. Reed's a serviceable third-down, slot receiver. Parrish could be the occasional backbreaker on the long ball, but Hardy has the tools to be a full-time starter.
Unless the Bills can somehow rope freak-of-nature Usain Bolt to the NFL, Hardy is the best possible complement to the diminutive Evans. Big, explosive, with a knack for scoring in the red zone. For an offense that scored only 13 touchdowns in 36 red-zone appearance last year, this quality is crucial.
Unfortunately, Hardy will sit out of the Bills' game at Indianapolis Sunday with a mild hamstring injury. He caught one touchdown in Buffalo's preseason opener, and hasn't done much else. But at some point, the playbook will co-inside with his talent. At some point, the hype will have an opportunity to shine.
Given Buffalo's lack of any other viable No. 2 options, Hardy will have plenty of opportunities to bust out in his rookie year. Maybe his impact is in Stage 2 or 3 of his development this season. But at the very least he's a Randy Moss-like physical speciman that Trent Edwards can comfortably lob passes to in crowded areas – a luxury that munchkins Reed and Parrish could never provide.
WR-by-Committee is best approach
By Patrick Moran
Much like Oakland , Chicago and Carolina will go with a running back-by-committee, the Bills will execute its equivalent at the second receiver position opposite Lee Evans. Josh Reed, Roscoe Parrish and James Hardy will all intertwine and bring assorted roles to a position that hasn't shined in Buffalo since Peerless Price co-starred with Eric Moulds in 2002.
Reed will start and will probably catch the most passes. His task is to move the chains. Reed was second on the team last season with 51 receptions but what's most advantageous with him on the field is he's by far the best blocker. This won't be lost on a team that will pound the football on the ground. While he's developed into a more consistent player through each of his six years in the league, he's still not a guy who'll give you a lot of big plays.
That job could fall on Parrish. For the last few years anyone within earshot has heard the staff rant on the significance of getting Parrish more touches. Up to this point, the Bills have done a feeble job with getting him the ball in open space.
He's as dangerous as they come in the open field and new coordinator Turk Schonert gets the picture. Parrish won't start but will get the most snaps in three receiver sets. He's too elusive to only average 10.1 yards per catch like he did last year. He's a home-run hitter on a team that's asked him to lay down too many bunts.
Fans expect big things from Hardy as a rookie based on his second round selection. I'm here to tell you not to hold your breath. Despite the beautiful touchdown grab in the preseason opener at Washington, Hardy's development is coming slower than the coaching staff has hoped.
Hardy has been full of glitches in almost every area in camp, including getting into routes, running them precisely and holding on to the ball. He's also been slowed by a hamstring injury. Anticipate Hardy this year to be a red-zone specialist with his enormous 6-foot-5 frame. He may even lead the team in touchdown catches. But from the outset, he'll probably begin as the fourth receiver and 25-30 receptions are probably realistic this year. But he possesses the most upside by far and with any luck we won't have to necessitate a number two receiver discussion next year. That's as long as the organization re-signs Evans before he can become a free agent.
Parrish must be utilized this season
By Marc Heintzman
Speed should be the name of the game for the Bills' receivers this season. The team's No.1 receiver, Lee Evans is one of the quickest receivers in the league and is an unquestioned deep threat. His counterpart on the opposite side should be an equally speedy player, and that is Roscoe Parrish.
Parrish may be small, but he has the speed and agility of a cougar. This, he has shown with his punt return skills. He has also developed into a better, more reliable receiver over the past three seasons with his numbers going up with each season. New offensive coordinator Turk Schonert will take more chances downfield than his conservative predecessor, Steve Fairchild, and this is good news for Parrish because with his speed, he is a major downfield threat.
Bills fans remember the game against the Giants last December, where Parrish made an eye-popping, arm-stretching grab worth 41 yards. Look for him to have a few of those this season, as his numbers will go up with the new offensive system.
Many want the team's vertically endowed second-round draft pick, James Hardy, to be the starter behind Lee Evans.
However, Hardy didn't make the biggest splash in training camp. He needs more time to develop his skills, work on his route running and work his way into becoming the No. 2 receiver. Where Hardy can be heavily utilized this season is in the red-zone. His height can provide the upper hand in jump ball situations in the end zone, a problem the Bills have had in previous years.
Parrish is the better choice over Hardy, at least for this season, and he should be the one to step up to fill the number two role. Both receivers are young and will continue to progress, and it will be interesting to see how they're utilized in the new offensive system.