Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Under Pressure Hardy Handles High Expectations

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Under Pressure Hardy Handles High Expectations

Article excerpt

A little guy has been following Kevin Hardy around since the

Jaguars selected him with the second pick in the college draft.

That guy really isn't welcomed by Hardy, but he has no choice.

He is there wherever Hardy goes, whether it's on the field or

off it.

That guy is his permanent shadow.

That guy is pressure.

Luckily for Hardy, he has been able to handle it so far. He

won't let the pressure interfere with what he's doing in his

rookie season.

"I try not to have a lot of pressure on myself," Hardy said.

"The fans and the media are going to expect a lot of me, but I

just go out there and play. I can only do what I can do. I don't

try and put these high goals on myself. You can't do that. If

you do, you'll be too concerned with achieving those goals. I

just want to go out and play football."

Hardy may block out the pressure, but it's definitely there.

When you're the second overall pick in the draft, with a sixyear

contract that will pay you $14.7 million, pressure is a part of

the package.

"I'm sure he's feeling a lot of pressure," defensive tackle Don

Davey said. "He's the second overall pick in the draft, and

we're a team counting on a lot of young players. There's

pressure on him. He's making a lot of money, and there's a lot

of money at stake here for this team to get some wins."

The Jaguars play host to the New York Jets at 1 p.m. Sunday at

Jacksonville Municipal Stadium. It was supposed to be a matchup

of the No. 1 and No. 2 picks from April's draft.

However, Jets wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson, the top pick, is

out for four weeks with a knee injury. Too bad, Hardy said. The

two got to know each other from all the pre-draft stuff, and

Hardy even attended a huge party Johnson threw in May in Los

Angeles.

At the time, they thought they'd meet again Sunday, but Johnson

won't be around.

"I'm a competitor and he's a competitor," Hardy said. "It would

have been nice to run up against him in our rookie season and

battle."

With Johnson out, the rookie spotlight will be on Hardy. …

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