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ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — After the departure of wide receiver Sammy Watkins to the Baltimore Ravens this offseason, much conversation has been made about who the next man up would be to fill his role.

The man whose name always comes up is third-year receiver Mecole Hardman.

Throughout training camp, teammates and coaches have talked about Hardman’s maturity ahead of the 2021 season.

Safety Tyrann Mathieu said he noticed the young speedster taking his role personal.

“He’s a guy who is really taking this thing personal and I think that’s how you have to approach this business if you want to go to the next level,” Mathieu said.

The Honey Badger said covering Hardman in practice since his arrival has helped him grow into a better receiver.

“He’s going up against me a lot so I feel like he knows all my tricks,” Mathieu said.

“Mentally just being prepared and just being ready when my number is called. When the opportunity presents itself, just got to come in this camp ready, take on any challenge in front of you,” Hardman said on Monday. “Sammy’s not here and so there’s a lot more snaps to go around to replace that so somebody’s got to step up and fill in the role. Whether it be two of us or three of us or how they want to do it, but I know whenever they call my number, I’m ready.”

Wide receiver Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce get the most attention from opposing defenses, so the third target for quarterback Patrick Mahomes will be key in the team’s offensive success.

“Him just looking at himself in the mirror, understanding the impact that he could have, understanding how he could affect the team positively or negatively it’s exciting to see him coming into this camp more of a young man,” Mathieu said.