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Falcons list WR Justin Hardy as punt and kick returner for Eagles game

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A slightly surprising development for the returner position

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

This is the weekend where the NFL regular season really begins to come into focus. With the Falcons playing on Thursday night, we’re getting a head start on everyone else. Today we’re getting a little bit of a surprise, courtesy of Vaughn McClure:

To be fair, Justin Hardy had been one of the front runners for punt returner throughout the preseason. The surprise here is seeing him listed as the kickoff returner as well. The Falcons surprised quite a few people when they gave Calvin Ridley quite a few reps at kickoff returner. His success at the position led many to believe it would be a role he’d carry into the regular season.

Now, all of this is subject to change, but this move makes sense. Ridley figures to be a big part of the offense this year while Hardy’s role has been minimal the past couple of years. The team probably doesn’t want to risk injury during kickoff returns for their first round pick.

What are your thoughts on Hardy potentially taking on both roles?

UPDATE: It appears that Vaughn has deleted the source tweet, which originally read “Falcons release for Eagles game has Justin Hardy listed as the kickoff and punt returner.” We will update this article if we find out more.

UPDATE 2: The Falcons official depth chart for the game does confirm Justin Hardy at both kickoff returner and punt returner.