It was a welcome sight for Bills fans in attendance as well as the offensive coaching staff as second-round pick James Hardy was back participating fully in practice Wednesday. Out since last Thursday when he tweaked his left hamstring, Hardy was thrilled to get back to work.
"It felt great. It's been sort of depressing on that sideline watching everybody, but now that I'm able to get back involved it's just a great feeling," Hardy said. "Hopefully tomorrow it won't be as sore and I'll be able to do the same thing."
"We worked him in slowly the last couple of practices, so he went through individual and then today we just kind of let him go," said head coach Dick Jauron. "I would venture to guess it's going to be a little bit sore, but we'll see how he tolerated this practice. It was really good to get him back."
Hardy got reps with the first team offense for most of the practice during team work as Lee Evans was given a lighter workload Wednesday by the staff. Early in 7-on-7 he made a nice reception on a crossing pattern, catching the ball in stride and heading up field. He made a few other short receptions as well, but Hardy didn't want to push it too much.
"I have to be smart," he said. "I can't come in and just do every route and do every play. They told me to be smart about it. I know my body and just tell them when I feel something. I made it through most of the practice."
Despite his frustration when he was sidelined with the injury, Hardy said he was able to maintain his focus mentally on his assignments in the offense.
"I definitely was in my book a lot more and stayed up later knowing I wouldn't be able to practice," said Hardy. "I still just tried to get mental reps and do exactly what I can do when I was not playing so when I came back I'd be ready to just jump back into it."
The extra study appears to have paid off as Hardy stated that he felt faster and more elusive out on the field as he was getting through his routes more efficiently.
Jauron and the staff have not yet decided on whether Hardy will play in Saturday's preseason opener against Washington. A lot will depend on how the tall receiver feels Thursday morning and whether he can practice again Thursday night.
Also back was veteran cornerback Will James who missed the past few days with a groin injury. He also got team work, but did not go through the entire workout. How his injury reacts to the activity Wednesday will go a long way in determining his status for Saturday as well.
Even though Hardy was back two other receivers were down in Josh Reed and Scott Mayle. Reed is still dealing with a lower back strain while Mayle is suffering from a strained hamstring.
"Scott's (injury) is a hamstring," said Jauron. "(Head athletic trainer) Bud (Carpenter) wouldn't project past today, so there's a little optimism there."
Donte Whitner also didn't practice. Jauron addressed Whitner and Josh Reed's status for Saturday's preseason game.
Also sitting Wednesday was defensive end Copeland Bryan (hamstring) and Matt Baker (groin).
Roscoe Parrish got in on the action early making an acrobatic bobbling catch on the far sideline and a few plays later in 7-on-7 made a nice grab down the near sideline on a throw from Trent Edwards for a 25-yard gain.
Leodis McKelvin, who got some first team reps at left cornerback with Terrence McGee receiving a lighter workload from the staff, forced a fumble on a catch that was made by Derek Fine.
Justin Jenkins and Leodis McKelvin had the best one-on-one battle on a pass from Trent Edwards. It initially looked like McKelvin would get his first interception of camp, but Jenkins also got two hands on the ball. The two wrestled for it after they both hit the ground with Jenkins ultimately winding up with the ball.
John DiGiorgio and George Wilson teamed up for the best run fit of the day as they stopped Xavier Omon right at the line of scrimmage.
Ashton Youboty made his third interception of camp on a pass from J.P. Losman that was tipped, it appeared, by both linebacker Donnie Spragan and tight end Courtney Anderson.
Special teams update
Special teams coordinator Bobby April set up his 'Mayday drill' where the field goal unit has to rush onto the field with seconds left on the clock at the end of a half or the game with no timeouts and kick a winning field goal.
The best part was April acting as the offense while the field goal kicking unit had to wait on the sideline to see if he got a first down or if he was stopped short and it was fourth down.
On the first one he was stopped short of the marker and signaled fourth down and the first field goal unit ran onto the field and got the kick off with two seconds remaining.
On the second April rolled out as the quarterback, but was "sacked" forcing a real hurry up situation as the clock was running. The second field goal unit just barely got the kick off.
Both groups went a second time and all four kicks by Rian Lindell were successful. George Wilson acted as holder.