Carolina Panthers veteran wide receiver and kick returner, Damiere Bryd, sustained what head coach Frank Reich described as a “significant” hamstring injury that may require surgery and will sideline him for at least six to eight weeks.
Bryd was a near lock to make the 53-man roster as an asset in both the passing game and special teams. His injury, which will likely sideline him for the beginning of the season, opens up another roster spot for a player who is valuable on offense and special teams. There are a couple guys who were on the cusp of being a final cut casualty who may be retained with the recent news.
Last year as the head coach in Indianapolis, Frank Reich kept six wide receivers at the end of training camp. With DJ Chark Jr, Terrace Marshall Jr, Jonathan Mingo, Laviska Shenault and Adam Theilen all locks to make the team, that leaves one position open.
Both Shi Smith and Derek Wright have made decent catches during camp and like Bryd, have both been fielding kicks during practice. Wright spent most of last year on the practice squad, while Smith saw action in all seventeen games, finishing the season with 22 receptions for 296 yards and two touchdowns. Shi also fielded 23 punt returns, for 143 yards – averaging 6.22 yards per reception.
Shi Smith’s experience will likely give him an edge over Derek Wright, but the final decision will come down to who special teams coordinator Chris Tabor thinks will be the more effective punt returner.