Well folks, you can put down your binoculars and let out a disappointing sigh, the Byrd has flown the coop. After a solid start through the first half of preseason action, Byrd’s production steadily declined in the succeeding games. After tallying 5 receptions for 58 yards and a touchdown in the first two preseason games, he was only able to catch one ball for 9 yards in the final two contests. Worse than that, his punt returning went from bad to wretched; after starting the preseason returning five punts for and average of 5.62 yards, he ended the final two games by returning 6 balls for an abysmal -.37 yards per return. Though his negative yardage can be partially attributed to the two muffed punts in the final game against the Steelers, it became clear he wasn't a natural punt returner. His inability to get anything in the return game all but slammed shut the already slim chance at a final roster spot.
Damiere may not have made the final 53, but the story doesn't end here. There has been talk that the Panthers will look to add Byrd to their practice squad if he clears waivers. This seems to be a very likely possibility, and will only pay huge dividends for our man. On the practice squad, Byrd can get the reps and practice he needs to refine his game. And who knows, with crisper routes and surer hands, he could be ready to make some noise in the regular season as soon as next year. Players such as Tony Romo, James Harrison, and the great Kurt Warner all started their careers on the practice squad, and look at them now, Harrison and Warner are Super Bowl champions, and Romo is still choking in the playoffs. All jokes aside, the practice squad isn't a futile part of a football team, in actuality, it is a chance for players to remain noticed and hold on to their dream of becoming a NFL player.
Only time will tell what the future holds for Damiere Byrd, and hopefully it turns out well in his favor. As of right now, the only receiver on the Panthers who may have a future as a deep threat three years from now is Corey Brown, and he hasn't played well of late either. Could Byrd still be the heir apparent to Ginn’s current role in our offense? Again, only time will tell. I have to admit, it would be pretty cool watching Damiere unleash that track speed and haul in a 50 yard Cam Newton bomb. But until the point where I'll I know whether that is a reality or simply a pipe dream, I will continue to keep tabs on #18. Thanks Damiere for giving me someone to root for during preseason, and sorry it didn't turn out the way we both had hoped, signing off #ByrdWatching.
By Grant Hughes
Follow Grant on Twitter @KenjonVander