After the first two preseason games, Damiere Byrd has firmly planted himself in the fight for a roster spot. Our man has tallied 5 receptions for 58 yards and a touchdown thus far, good for the top three in each category among our receivers throughout the first two games. Though the brutal loss of Kelvin Benjamin brings little good, a silver lining may be the possibility of a young receiver stepping up in his absence. Byrd finds himself with a far greater chance of making the final roster than when the preseason first began, but he is still a “long shot” for right now.
We haven’t learned anything we didn't already know about Byrd, in the first two games of the preseason. However, one thing we did know has been reestablished several times; Damiere Byrd can absolutely fly. In his touchdown against the Dolphins, Byrd was able to get around four yards of separation in about ten yards of ground covered. Although the defensive back got caught looking, it’s obvious Byrd can light it up in a small amount of space. As a former track star, he has the long and short speed no one can cover.
Over the last two preseason games, we have also seen Byrd field a few punts. Against the Dolphins, Byrd returned three punts for an average of 6.7 yards, an improvement over his two returns for 4 yards on average against the Bills. His punt return statistics are about equal to Ginn’s thus far, but both have been unspectacular as a whole. How Byrd does returning punts will be interesting to watch, and it could go a long way in determining if he makes the roster. I would also like to see Damiere get a chance in the kick return game, there he would have the time to gain a full head of speed.
Byrd has performed nicely in camp and preseason, and several reporters say he has already secured a spot on the practice squad. This was always inevitable in my opinion, whether he would make the final roster was always the question to me. The injuries to our receiving corp has left a a few spots open, and Byrd could find himself in one of them if he keeps his play up. In the next game against the Patriots, I would really like to see the offense air it out to Byrd on a vertical route. Because if Byrd can gain five steps on a defensive back from the opponents 20 yard line, how deep could he get from Carolina’s 20? Grab your binoculars, Damiere Byrd will be back on screen August 28, at 7:30 pm, and we can all do a little Byrd Watching ourselves.
By Grant Hughes
Follow Grant on Twitter @KenjonVander