The Carolina Panthers have more playoff experience than any team in the NFC field.
And then there’s safety Jairus Byrd.
Byrd has played 118 games in nine NFL seasons, but Sunday will be his first playoff game.
Byrd, 31, who signed with the Panthers in October, said he wasn’t sure he’d ever make it to the postseason.
Never miss a local story.
“I didn’t know,” Byrd said Thursday. “But I’m excited. It’s going to be special.”
Byrd, a backup behind Mike Adams and Kurt Coleman, will make his playoff debut in an NFC wild-card game at New Orleans. Byrd played for the Saints from 2014-16 when they went 7-9 and missed the playoffs three years in a row.
Byrd played five seasons in Buffalo before New Orleans. Not only has Byrd never made the playoffs, he’s never been on a team that finished with a winning record.
“I haven’t really been that close, honestly. I’ve never been that close,” he said. “In Buffalo we started like 5-0 one year but just kind of went downhill.”
Byrd was thinking of 2011, when the Bills started 4-1 but lost nine of their last 11 games and finished 6-10.
The Panthers have 34 players with postseason experience, with 187 combined playoff games for Carolina and elsewhere. Atlanta, last year’s Super Bowl runner-up, has 36 players with playoff experience, totaling 143 games.
Byrd said some of his playoff-tested teammates have told him what to expect.
“Obviously, guys have been here that have played in a lot of playoff games,” Byrd said. “They kind of told me, just take care of your body. You’ve been through a long season. Make sure your body is ready to go – tuned up, rested and just go.”