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In June I reported that undrafted rookie Damiere Byrd out of South Carolina was making plays during OTA workouts. Now, in August, I can tell you that Damiere Byrd is also making plays in training camp. During a fully padded practice,, Byrd was able to sneak behind Colin Jones in the secondary and make an impressive reception from Cam Newton. However, the NFL officials at practice called him out of bounds. Byrd will need to work on the small details of the position like dragging your feet and tapping your toe when near the sideline. The good news for Damiere is that much like last year's Corey Brown, he is an undrafted receiver getting reps with the first string.... and producing That is something not to be taken lightly. Byrd has the kind of speed that cannot be taught. During the final play of practice, it was again Byrd who snuck into the back of the end zone behind safety Robert Lester, this time bringing his feet down in bounds for the touchdown. Panthers Head Coach Ron Rivera has said the Panthers would keep 6 or even 7 wide receivers. Six receivers is fairly common across the league. Seven, however, is not. Could Rivera have had Damiere Byrd in mind when he made that comment? Could be. View full article
One of the more interesting stories of the 2015 Carolina Panthers OTA sessions has been the improvement of Corey Brown at the wide receiver position. A few days ago during practice I was standing next to Bill Voth of BBR discussing Brown's improvement. We came to the conclusion that the best sign of his arrival as a player was the fact that we were no longer really taking note of his receptions. Meaning, Corey Brown making plays had become routine, not noteworthy. That is a true sign of a player's growth. After the final Panthers OTA practice, I wanted to speak to Corey about his growth and his thoughts of the receivers group as a whole. So I waited, and waited, and waited a bit more. You see, Corey was across the field catching one handed passes with the defensive backs..... View full article
Punt returners became a bit clearer at OTA practice today, and kept the same rotation throughout practice. In order... Ted Ginn Brenton Bersin (Don't shoot the messenger) De'Andre Presley Damiere Byrd Obviously, Ted Ginn is the favorite to win the starting punt return position. He has proven effective there in the past for the Panthers. For me, the most interesting prospect here is Damiere Byrd. During rookie camp I noted the Panthers would probably be taking a look at him at punt returns. South Carolina Gamecock fans were quick to point out the fact he had never attempted punt returns in college. None the less, the Panthers appear to be giving him a shot. And with his quickness, why not. Any hint of daylight and Byrd could be in the end zone. Byrd looked pretty comfortable for a guy that had never fielded punts before. I saw no drops on any catchable punts. Ted Ginn did drop an easy punt. Go figure. It will be interesting next week to see how this unit is shaping up.