LaRon Byrd smiled. The undrafted rookie wide receiver is seemingly already a fan favorite, which is always a good place to be when you were basically unwanted in April’s draft.
“I’m sure no one in Arizona knew who I was,” Byrd said. “But my job is to work. I’m a blue-collar guy. My friends laugh at me because they say I am old school. But I come every day with my hard hat, wherever that takes me.”
It’s taken him not only on to the Cards’ roster but as the fifth receiver, behind Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Roberts, Early Doucet and Michael Floyd. After watching Byrd in the preseason, with his Fitz-like dreads and big (6-foot-4) body, it’s hard to believe someone like him at a big school like the University of Miami wouldn’t be picked. But such are circumstances like Byrd’s, after he fell off the radar of new coach Al Golden’s staff last season in Coral Gables.
Byrd shrugs off his history. College didn’t end quite the way he wanted, but he came into the league with a confidence that showed the experience didn’t ruin him. “Not to sound big-headed or conceited, but this is where I saw myself anyway,” Byrd said. “I didn’t come here thinking I wanted to be a practice squad guy. I didn’t come here thinking, ‘Oh, I may have a chance.’ “
On one hand, Byrd’s confidence is obvious. But his short interview is peppered with him talking about being “appreciative” and “thankful” and “grateful” for his Arizona opportunity. He doesn’t know his role yet — it’s possible Byrd won’t even be active on Sunday, but most of the time, the Cards do use five receivers — but the game is simple for him, NFL or not. “The quarterback throws it and we have to catch it,” he said.
A few lockers down from Byrd’s is Fitzgerald’s, the man with whom he has already drawn some comparisons (Mostly for the hair, but still.) Byrd looked over at the stall, and smiled. “Hopefully, I can get to be like that guy,” Byrd said. “Maybe I can get eight for 128,” he said, noting Fitzgerald’s eight-year, $128 million contract.
“As of now, I’m just very grateful.”
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