Jarius Byrd signed with the Carolina Panthers on Oct. 3, a Tuesday, and less than a week later played almost half of the team’s defensive snaps in a 27-24 victory over Detroit.
Byrd was on the field for 24 out of 61 defensive snaps. Fellow free safety Colin Jones played 36.
The reason they got as much playing time as they did is that starter Kurt Coleman was out with a sprained knee.
Coleman, safety Demetrious Cox (ankle) and center Ryan Kalil (neck) were the only three Panthers listed as out on Carolina’s final pregame injury report on Wednesday.
That means Byrd and Jones are likely to see a similar rotation against the Eagles, where their presence will be one of the game’s most important aspects. They’ll be tasked at times with covering Philadelphia tight end Zach Ertz, who through five games leads all receivers in the NFC with 387 receiving yards. He has become second-year quarterback Carson Wentz’s favorite target.
Basically, Carolina coach Ron Rivera expects Byrd and Jones to repeat what they did against Detroit.
“They both played well last week for us,” Rivera said. “Jarius was still learning, he’s got a little bit better grasp this week and showing it in practice.
“Colin (is a) physical player for us, a guy who gets around quickly and can make plays for us, so we’re ... pleased with what we’ve gotten from the two of them so far.”
So far, Jones has been impressed by Byrd.
“He’s just a smart football player,” Jones said . “He was here less than a week and just picked it up really fast. ... Just the longer you work with somebody, the more comfortable you get.”