Hardy appears set to debut against Bucs

FLOWERY BRANCH – With wide receivers Leonard Hankerson and Nick Williams missing practice with hamstring injuries on Wednesday, fourth-round pick Justin Hardy appears set to make his debut against Tampa Bay at 1 p.m. on Sunday at the Georgia Dome.

Hardy, who played at East Carolina, starred during the exhibition season, but he needed some time to help comprehend the Falcons’ playbook.

“We didn’t have a playbook at ECU,” Hardy said. “I wouldn’t say it was a system. We had plays, but it wasn’t literally in a playbook like we have here.”

Veterans receiver Roddy White and Julio Jones have helped Hardy with his football studies.

“Any time that I get a chance to get with the older guys, they give me things to pick up on and things to know,” Hardy said. “It’s been real good so I feel confident enough to know what’s going on.”

Hardy flashed some big-play ability in the exhibition season and had a 70-yard punt return.

“We’ve got that mindset around here, one man down the next man up,” Jones said. “You are one play away. Justin Hardy, he is going to come out and play if (necessary).” What will fans see from Hardy?

“He will be ready,” Jones said. “He’s definitely going to be ready. He comes to practice every day. He’s got a great motor and he listens.”

Returner Eric Weems can also help out at wide receiver.

“Fortunately for us, we’ve got a deep stable at receiver of guys who are absolutely ready to go,” Quinn said.