After using one empty roster spot to sign veteran linebacker Donnie Spragan over the weekend the Bills used their other roster vacancy to sign a receiver Monday. Buffalo signed rookie free agent wideout C.J. Hawthorne prior to the team's afternoon practice.
The Bills were down in numbers at the receiver position the past few days and needed an extra set of legs to handle the workload.
"We had nine to start with and I don't mind nine because I think they have to get used to running a lot," said head coach Dick Jauron of his receiving corps. "The problem is when you get multiple injuries like we did, James (Hardy) was sitting down and Steve (Johnson) was watching and then Roscoe and Josh are taking a lot of extra reps early in the camp and I didn't like that. We all just felt like we needed to get somebody in who was competitive and quick.
The 5'11" 168-pound Hawthorne fits the bill. Used mostly as a flanker at the University of Hawaii, Hawthorne believes he can be effective outside.
"I feel if you're going to play outside you have to be fast and that's something I definitely feel I can bring to this team is speed," said Hawthorne. "I feel confident about that."
"He's a competitive and quick, high character guy," said Jauron. "He's got a chance and he'll take some of the load off of guys."
Hawthorne got right to work Monday afternoon as he participated in individual receiver drills and in some special teams segments. Buffalo's head coach believes he'll begin to take some reps on offense as soon as Tuesday evening.
The University of Hawaii product started all 13 games in 2007 for the Rainbows compiling 61 receptions for 859 yards and six touchdowns.
Hawthorne played cornerback for Hawaii his junior season before moving back on offense to receiver.
"I was a receiver my whole life, but when I went to the University of Hawaii they wanted me to play right off the bat so I switched over to cornerback," said Hawthorne. "But I'm a receiver at heart. That's where I'm most comfortable and most confident so that's what I love."
The undrafted rookie was originally signed by Atlanta after the NFL draft was over and went through minicamp with the Falcons before being released earlier this summer.
"I'm just thankful for the opportunity," he said. "Sometimes you have doubts, but you just work hard and keep the faith and keep believing. I knew if I continued to work hard the opportunity would come."
Buffalo had one open roster spot as Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters is currently on the Did Not Report list and thus does not count towards the Bills roster. With the signing of Hawthorne, the Bills are now at the limit of 80 players on the roster.