Friday, August 3, 2012

Bills WR Hagan 'working rear off' for starting spot


With a training camp roster that includes a dozen talented receivers, Bills wideouts have to go above and beyond to get the recognition they deserve. Luckily for Derek Hagan, people are noticing.

The 28-year-old Hagan, who is entering his seventh season as a pro, has yet to find a permanent home in the NFL, and he faces an uphill battle for a starting spot on the Bills' roster. Buffalo's No. 1 receiver Stevie Johnson and slot man David Nelson have all but solidified their roles, leaving a large group fighting for the scraps in the depth chart.

But according to coach Chan Gailey, Hagan may already have a leg up on the competition.

“(He) is taking advantage of his opportunity,” Gailey told the media Thursday. “Derek Hagan is working his rear end off out there. It is a great thing to see. He wants to make this football team and wants to be a big part of our offense. He has done a good job. He made some big plays out there today. He is making a real bid to be a near lock.”

Hagan is battling Donald Jones, Buffalo's No. 2 receiver for half of last year, along with a slew of others including Marcus Easley and rookie T.J. Graham. Hagan showed promise at the end of last season but has reportedly shown much more in his short time on the field thus far this year.

“It is feeling really good,” Hagan said of his chemistry with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. “We have been working hard, just dating back to last year. Coming in to OTAs, the summertime and all that stuff — just putting in that work.

"We know we have a long way to go to get to where we want to be when the season ends. It all starts in training camp and we will go from there.”

Hagan was only with the Bills for four games last season after shipping over from Oakland midway through the season, making his mark on the last game of the year against New England. Before that, he split six years between Miami and the reigning Super Bowl champion Giants.

Gailey told reporters Thursday he wasn't thinking about Hagan's rocky past, only about his success in a Bills jersey. And as far as Hagan is concerned, going forward is the only thing on his mind.

“It all starts at practice. Just trying to come out one day at a time and not worry about the next day," Hagan said. "Come back tomorrow. It is another day and time to get better.”

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