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Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Justin Hardy caught bricks as a kid to perfect his catching ability

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Fact: Justin Hardy hands are legally considered weapons of mass destruction

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Justin Hardy had to navigate high expectations during his rookie year. That's not something you say often when referring to fourth round draft picks. But when you're joining perhaps the most top-heavy WR corps in the NFL, it's not surprising either.

Hardy's numbers last season didn't exactly pop. He played in just 9 games, racking up 21 receptions on 36 targets for 194 receiving yards and no touchdowns. That said, those numbers don't account for the rave reviews he received from his teammates and the coaching staff. You'd be hard pressed to find someone who isn't confident in his ability to contribute going forward.

Hardy's biggest asset is his hands. He's known as a sure-handed receiver. But how'd he get that way? Per Kelsey Conway over at The Mothership, it's due in part to an unconventional training tool: a brick.

"I saw Jerry Rice catch bricks one day on YouTube and I was like, ‘I'm going to try that that,'" Hardy said. "I used to catch bricks here and there a couple times until they started scratching my hands." Scratching up his young hands turned out to be a valuable case of "no pain, no gain." Hardy broke the FBS record for all-time catches during his career at East Carolina, showing the reliability of those hands that once spent a bit of time catching heavy masonry implements.

I'll be honest, I couldn't find the YouTube clip Hardy refers to; however, it is well known that Rice caught bricks as a kid. Hardy isn't blessed with elite speed or size and Rice himself wasn't blessed with the former either. I'm not saying they're comparable players but there are worse people Hardy could emulate.

So ... ever try to catch a brick? (Don't try this at home, kids.)