As Carolina Panthers receiver Damiere Byrd walked off the practice field Friday, he still had not been told definitively that he would be activated for Sunday.
“I’m just waiting on one of you to tweet it,” he laughed to the Observer. “I’ll be checking Twitter in a little bit.”
But just a moment later, in a brief scrum with reporters about 15 feet away, head coach Ron Rivera confirmed that Byrd indeed would be activated in time for Carolina’s game in New Orleans on Sunday.
The corresponding roster move for Byrd is defensive end Charles Johnson, who was suspended by the NFL on Friday for violating its performance-enhancing drugs policy.
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Byrd broke his left forearm in Week 4 against New England. The league allows two players to return from injured reserve if necessary – tight end Greg Olsen was the other Panther to return, last week against the Jets.
Byrd was designated for return to practice two weeks ago, and has spent that time trying to regain his feel for his teammates and quarterback Cam Newton.
“Being out for eight weeks, you know you have to get back into a rhythm of play calls, communication before the plays, things like that,” he said. “I feel great running-wise, things like that. I’m just ready to go out and play.”
Byrd is wearing a soft, foam-covered cast on his forearm to not only protect himself from any contact, but to not accidentally hurt any teammates in practice should his arm hit them during a play.
After the departure of speedy vertical threat Ted Ginn Jr. to New Orleans in free agency last spring, Byrd emerged as the lead candidate to take over the much-needed role of stretching the field for the Panthers offense.
This Sunday, Byrd will get a chance to step back into that role in front of his old mentor.
“My first two years with Ted here, he really was a mentor to all of the younger guys, especially to me,” he said. “I fit right into that mold. So it’ll be a good chance to see him and to be able to have the opportunity to go out and play. In this league, opportunities are slim and you have to capitalize.”