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Hardy ahead of the game

More than two months removed from surgery on his torn ACL, things could not be more positive for Bills wideout James Hardy. Coming off his two-month checkup Hardy is ahead of schedule and stands a good chance of practicing come the tail end of training camp.

"They said a couple of weeks into training camp I'll be able to participate," said Hardy. "I'll be able to practice toward the end and be able to play in the last preseason game. That's what I've been told."

Hardy is steadily regaining his stride, albeit in the pool, where a good portion of his training is taking place at this point in his rehab regimen.

"I'm starting to run in the pool, running backwards," said Hardy. "It's coming along very well."

Bills strength and conditioning coordinator J.T. Allaire and the athletic training staff swear by the pool as it reduces the impact on a major joint like the knee when a player is rehabbing after surgery.

"For guys that we don't want to pound their joints as much but still want to condition them, it's a great conditioning tool," said Allaire. "We can really kick somebody's butt in the pool. It's a tough workout."

Hardy has been extremely focused with his rehab as he has been at One Bills Drive five to six days a week since his surgery in mid-January.

With rehabilitation for ACL surgeries typically running six to nine months, Hardy should be right at the nine month mark in the middle of August. What his level of participation will be remains to be seen.

To the surprise of some Hardy has also been receptive to the addition of Terrell Owens to Buffalo's roster. As much as he learned on the field last year from veterans like Lee Evans and Josh Reed, Owens possesses the same body type and physical skill set that Hardy does. Owens is obviously more proven and more polished, but Hardy sees an opportunity there.

"I always felt that I was the type of player that if I saw it I could go do it," Hardy said. "(Owens) coming here with the body frame that he has and the things that he's able to do in the red zone, I can definitely put it into my game and he can show me things that I haven't learned yet."

Of course knowing Owens will be manning one of the starting outside receiver positions means Hardy will have to study up on the route assignments for all of the receiver positions within the offense. Once you're a reserve receiver you have to be prepared to step in anywhere in the event of an injury.

"I just have to know everything that the offense is trying to do both outside and inside at receiver," said Hardy. "Knowing that we have T.O., wherever I can get in and play that's the way I'm coming into it mentally. So whatever I have to do to get on the field to help us win, that's my goal."

Though his rehab has gone remarkably well there is still some uncertainty concerning Hardy's 2009 season and where it will lead. But the long, lanky receiver is more concerned with the fortunes of the team than the numbers next to his name.

"I don't have any individual statistics that I want," said Hardy. "I just want us to be successful and whatever part that coach wants me to play in it that's what I'll do."

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