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Buried on Jets' Bench, Mecole Hardman Posts Health Update on Social Media

Sparingly-used slot receiver speaks up after playing only two snaps vs. Patriots
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Free-agent addition Mecole Hardman has played fewer than 10 percent of the New York Jets' offensive snaps this year and the surprising development doesn't appear to be the result of an injury. 

The speedy slot receiver underwent offseason surgery, but his recent social media post suggests he is fully recovered and ready to contribute to his new team. 

"I wish people would stop saying I be hurt a lot, that just shows who actually pay attention! Played every game for 3 years straight and had a freak injury half way through year 4. A injury where none of y’all don’t even have the slightest idea of what I dealt with when the injury occurred," said Hardman in a post on the social media site formerly known as Twitter.

After signing a one-year deal reportedly worth up to $4 million (including a $2.5m bonus and $3.58m guaranteed) this past March, Hardman has been buried on the bench during the season's first three games. He has been targeted only once in his limited action as a receiver. 

Hardman saw no offensive action in the Week 1 win over the Buffalo Bills. He participated in 14 plays on offense against the Dallas Cowboys, making one six-yard catch. Out of 63 offensive snaps against the New England Patriots, the blazing-fast playmaker was on the field for only two.

Jets' offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett seemed to attribute Hardman's lack of touches to game flow.

"It goes with everybody, it’s not just him, it’s all the guys," said Hackett prior to the Week 3 battle against New England. "With such a limited amount of plays, like I said, 49 plays or 47 plays last week, I think it was about 50 some plays the week before. We want to get a lot of people involved and until we get more plays, it’s going to be hard to do that."

WR Mecole Hardman (6) runs after a catch against the Buccaneers in an NFL Preseason game

WR Mecole Hardman (6) runs after a catch in an NFL Preseason game vs. the Bucs

Hardman, a 2019 second-round draft pick, spent his first four NFL seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs. After three straight 500+ yard receiving campaigns, an injury limited Hardman to eight regular season games in 2022. 

"I know he ran a 4.3 [40-yard dash], but he plays 4.3. He’s got elite, elite field vision with the ball in his hands," said head coach Robert Saleh shortly after the free-agent signing became official.

Maybe the oddest occurrence of the Jets' season thus far is Hardman's lack of usage. With the offense desperately in need of a spark, his elite speed has been stuck on the sidelines. Out of 164 offensive snaps, Hardman has been deployed for only 16. 

"You would love to find ways to utilize his speed, but at the same time, there’s a lot of guys we’re trying to get on the field," said Saleh on Wednesday. "We tried to get him out there early against New England, but it didn’t go the way we wanted to, and the game kind of goes in a different direction."

Garrett Wilson and Allen Lazard both played all but two offensive snaps against the Patriots. The third receiver reps went almost exclusively to Randall Cobb, who was on the field 73 percent of the time.

Hardman spoke to reporters on Thursday, ahead of the Week 4 game against his former team, and the veteran didn't point fingers. 

"I'm ready. Whenever they call my number and whenever they are ready for me to go out there, I'm going to go out there and produce and do what I know how to do," said Hardman


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