Carolina Panthers receiver Russell Shepard reacts to the trade of Kelvin Benjamin
The Panthers traded No. 1 wideout Kelvin Benjamin in part to get more speed on the field.
Finding it is another issue.
But one place they could look for a late-season infusion of speed is their injured reserve list, where former South Carolina wide receiver and track sprinter Damiere Byrd has been languishing for the past month.
Byrd, 24, a second-year player and one of the fastest players on the team, broke his forearm at New England on Oct. 1 and was placed on IR two days later.
He was on the practice field Wednesday for the first time since getting hurt, working on his conditioning along with two other injured players – wideout Fred Ross and cornerback Cole Luke.
“It was good to be out there. Hopefully they will be able to bring me off IR to return,” Byrd said. “They’ve been speaking as if it’s a strong possibility, so I kind of just wait to see how the next few weeks shape up.”
A team can bring two players off IR each season, and the Panthers plan to activate tight end Greg Olsen later this month.
But Byrd is someone else who could be an interesting reinforcement, particularly if receivers Curtis Samuel and Kaelin Clay are not consistently getting open and making plays down the field.
Byrd can begin practicing in two weeks and would be eligible to play Dec. 3 at New Orleans.
Byrd has only one career catch – in Week 17 last year at Tampa Bay. But the Panthers have looked for ways to utilize his speed: He broke his arm getting tackled on a 12-yard reverse against the Patriots.
Byrd, out of the cast and running again, could bear watching in the coming weeks. He’s confident his speed can help the offense.
“Anytime deep threat comes into the category, I think I fit into that perfectly,” he said. “That’s exactly what my strong suit is.”