Opposite Julio Jones, the Falcons coaches really like newcomer Leonard Hankerson based on his strong offseason. Hankerson played in Kyle Shanahan's system while in Washington and appears to be healthy coming off a gruesome left knee injury in 2013. But Hankerson's emergence doesn't necessarily move Roddy White aside. It simply means the veteran White has to have a strong training camp and show the left knee injury that has plagued him won't be a lingering issue.
It would be hard to imagine White accepting a reserve role after he established team records in both career receptions (765) and receiving yards (10,357) through 10 years with the franchise. Again, it will all depend on how White's body holds up throughout the season. He's been nagged by various ailments over the last two seasons, including hamstring and ankle problems to go with the knee. And White turns 34 in November.
This is the first that we've heard that Hankerson could potentially push White for a starting role. Frankly, we don't see a healthy White losing his spot. Last year, White missed a couple of games due to injury, but when he played, he was a solid WR2 in PPR formats (#17 PPR PPG). He’s 33, but as long as he stays healthy, he should be a very solid WR2/WR3.
The Atlanta Falcons have some intriguing options at wide receiver heading into 2015. This includes the obvious options of Julio Jones and Roddy White, but also Leonard Hankerson, Devin Hester and none other than rookie Justin Hardy. Hardy, for one, is a player who has massive upside and potential. Brian Jones of 247Sports is obviously a big believer in this, as he called Hardy the "secret weapon" for the Falcons.
"The answer is simple. It’s always good to have a plethora of weapons on offense, but Hardy is a weapon that no one will be talking about until the 2015 season gets rolling and makes plays. And the reason that Hardy will be a secret weapon is also simple. Hardy played at a smaller school (East Carolina), and he’s not the biggest receiver as he stands a shade over six-feet tall." Jones explained.
He continued by breaking down exactly what Hardy did during his career with the Pirates.
"But being overlooked is nothing new to Hardy. In fact, East Carolina did not offer him a scholarship his freshman year. He made his way on the team as a walk-on, but earned a scholarship the following season. From there, he became the NCAA’s career all-time reception leader, and was awarded the Burlsworth Trophy which is given to the most outstanding player who started his career as a walk-on." said Jones.
It's hard to argue with his point. Hardy has serious potential and the fact that he fell to the fourth-round in the 2015 NFL draft was a bit of a surprise to everyone. The Falcons nabbed the talented receiver and have to be happy about where they got him.
Hardy likely won't get drafted in typical leagues and he's way down our WR list. Jones and White are obviously the studs, but it's not out of the question Hardy could earn some playing by passing Hankerson and Hester on the depth chart. Right now he's just a name to keep in the back of your mind.
Third-round draft pick Justin Hardy has made a good first impression on some of his fellow skill position players. On Tuesday, Matt Ryan praised the WR for his consistent improvements; today, Julio Jones commended Hardy for the way he’s responded to challenges thrown his way.
According to wide receiver Roddy White, the offense won’t be as reliant as throwing the ball as they were last season. The Falcons were third in the league with 39.5 attempts per game last season and White expects that number to drop significantly in 2015.
“We’re not going to be passing 35-40 times a game,” White said, via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
That may well be the plan, but the Falcons are going to have to be a lot more effective running the ball than they were last year if they are going to cut down on the size of the roles that White, Julio Jones and Matt Ryan play in the offense.
Even though he missed four games with a foot injury, Douglas was set to make $3.5 million in the final season of his contract and offered a relatively cheap insurance policy for Roddy White. It's possible that the Falcons plan to upgrade the position to prepare for White's retirement. This year's crop of free agent receivers is deep and talented.
Friday, December 26, 2014, 6:53pm
Falcons WR Harry Douglas (foot, probable) took limited practice reps all week and is probable for Week 17. Douglas should play, but doesn’t have much fantasy appeal with both Julio Jones and Roddy White expected to play.
Friday, December 26, 2014, 6:53pm
Falcons WR Roddy White (ankle, probable) took full practice reps on Friday after being limited earlier in the week and is probable for Week 17. White will play against Carolina. In his last four games against the Panthers, he has averaged 8.3 catches for 113 yards and 1.25 TD.
Friday, December 19, 2014, 6:02pm
Falcons WR Julio Jones (hip, questionable) missed practice all week and is questionable for Week 16. Jones is likely a game-time decision on Sunday, per HC Mike Smith. If he plays, expect him to be ranked as a WR2, depending on the pregame reports from the Atlanta/New Orleans beat writers. If he’s out, Harry Douglas and Roddy White would both be top 25 plays against a shaky New Orleans secondary. The Falcons play early on Sunday.
Friday, December 19, 2014, 6:02pm
Falcons WR Roddy White (knee, probable) took full practice reps on Friday after being limited earlier in the week and is probable for Week 16. The knee is a new injury for White who played all but a few of the snaps in Week 15. He will be fine to play on Sunday.
Thursday, December 18, 2014, 6:14pm
Falcons WR Roddy White (knee) returned to limited practice reps Thursday after missing Wednesday practice. The knee is a new injury for White who played all but a few of the snaps in Week 15. He should be fine to play on Sunday, though we’ll keep an eye on his practice participation this week.
Wednesday, December 17, 2014, 5:57pm
Falcons WR Roddy White (knee) did not practice Wednesday. The knee is a new injury for White who played all but a few of the snaps in Week 15. He should be fine to play on Sunday, though we’ll keep an eye on his practice participation this week.
“Julio is about where he was yesterday. Our anticipation is we’ll have him ready to go this week,” Smith said, via the team’s website. “It’s going to be important for him to continue to improve. He improved from last week to this week, and we need to get him back out there. I know it’ll be every day, what’s going on with Julio. I think what we need to do, is we need to realize it’s something that’s going to be later on during the week, so maybe we can look at other things and talk about other before we talk about number 11.”
PFT went on to say Smith was full of optimism for Jones last week and Roddy White the previous week before both players wound up on the sideline come kickoff. That doesn’t mean he’s off on this call, but there’s probably not much reason to jump to the conclusion that Jones is playing until he’s able to at least get back on the practice field.
Friday, December 12, 2014, 6:26pm
Falcons WR Roddy White (ankle, probable) took full practice reps on Friday after being limited earlier in the week and is probable for Week 15. White should be fine to face the Steelers, but he will be the focus of the defense if Julio Jones can’t play.
Thursday, December 11, 2014, 6:32pm
Falcons WR Roddy White (ankle) took limited practice reps again Thursday. White should be fine to face the Steelers, but he may be the focus of the defense if Julio Jones can’t play.
Wednesday, December 10, 2014, 6:25pm
Falcons WR Roddy White (ankle) took limited practice reps Wednesday. White should be fine to face the Steelers, but he may be the focus of the defense if Julio Jones can’t play.
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