We may have a clue as to why Nick Williams saw so much run in the playoffs, and Justin Hardy received just two targets in two playoff games. Hardy apparently went under the knife recently for an unspecified shoulder injury.
There has been no word from the team or the Falcons’ plugged-in beat reporters to this point, but Hardy himself posted about the surgery, and as our friends at Rise Up Reader noted, it appears to have been for his shoulder.
Thanking GOD for a successful Surgery— Justin Hardy (@FreakMagic2) January 22, 2018
It would appear Justin Hardy had shoulder surgery pic.twitter.com/6Eul3PFlwB— Rise Up Reader (@RiseUpReader) January 23, 2018
We’ll wait to see if the team releases any information on a timetable, but it would appear this was a quick procedure, and hopefully one that leaves Hardy ready for offseason workouts and training camp. It may have just been a clean-up procedure, but you have to wonder if Hardy was a bit limited given how little work he got in the postseason. That was especially true against the Eagles, where the Falcons’ passing game struggled mightily.
It’s a pivotal year for Hardy, too. The consistent receiver has snagged no less than 20 and no more than 21 receptions in each of his three NFL seasons, piling up a total of 62 receptions for 618 yards and seven touchdowns. He’s proven to be a consistently useful option over the middle of the field and in the red zone, but Hardy has never been the fastest, most physical wide receiver or an ace at wriggling his way open, so he gets by on his willingness to work over the middle and genuinely useful blocking skills. With Taylor Gabriel’s future with the team uncertain and the Falcons likely to look at the wide receiver position in the draft, Hardy probably needs another solid season at minimum to return after 2018. His contract is up after the season.