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Byrd May Be Word At Receiver

Posted Nov 29, 2012

Notebook: Wideouts banged up; Rex Ryan got his start with Cardinals

Wide receiver LaRon Byrd tries to make his first NFL catch moments before Rams linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar delivered an illegal helmet-to-helmet blow that caused Byrd to drop the ball.

LaRon Byrd is still chasing his first NFL reception.

He had one in his hands last weekend against the Rams, but didn’t quite hang on to the ball when linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar delivered a nasty helmet-to-helmet blow. Byrd was down for a minute, the ball dropping from his hands as he went down.

“Me and Mike (Floyd) joked about it,” Byrd said Thursday, able to laugh since he has been cleared after his possible concussion. “(Floyd’s) first catch was on a tipped-ball touchdown (against Philadelphia). Mine was on a tipped-ball knockout.”

Byrd’s first catch could still be coming soon. Below Larry Fitzgerald on the depth chart, the Cardinals are dealing with multiple injury issues heading into Sunday’s game against the Jets, meaning Byrd may need to play a larger role.

Andre Roberts, who actually has more receiving yards than Fitzgerald this season (639 to 627), has yet to practice this week with a bad ankle. Early Doucet has been limited all week with bad ribs that kept him inactive for the Rams’ game. Byrd has been officially limited with his head injury.

Floyd, who has emerged unscathed and has played a bigger role of late, could end up getting his first start across from Fitzgerald.

“I expect a lot out of myself,” said Floyd, who has 24 receptions on the season. “I’m having a lot more fun, because I am comfortable in the offense.

“You never want to see your teammates go down. It’s next man in.”

Coach Ken Whisenhunt said the Cardinals would have to see what players were healthy on Sunday to know for sure who they would have catching passes from quarterback Ryan Lindley. Asked if his depth would be test, Whisenhunt smiled. “Is that what we have, depth? I hope so.”

With the Jets usually an aggressive bunch, the chance of having some receivers open down the field seems likely – although the Cards had some of those same chances against the Rams and Lindley was unable to make it work.

“It’s tough not to be able to connect on some of the plays we have missed on this year, but I don’t think guys have gotten down about it,” Fitzgerald said. “We have a pretty good attitude in our group.”

That includes Byrd, searching for that initial catch.

“Our job is to catch the ball and run our routes,” Byrd said. “The other things are out of our control. We can have the right depth, beat the DB and when the ball is in the air, make a play.”

ROBERTS STILL SITS

While Roberts missed a second straight day of practice, two Cardinals – defensive back Justin Bethel (shoulder) and running back William Powell (shoulder) – each were upgraded to full practice Thursday. The rest of the injury report was unchanged, leaving five players still limited: Byrd, Doucet, defensive end Calais Campbell (calf), running back Beanie Wells (knee) and quarterback Kevin Kolb (ribs).

For the Jets, starting safety LaRon Landry, who practiced fully with a heel issue on Wednesday, was downgraded all the way to a DNP on Thursday. Limited Jets starters included guard Brandon Moore (hip) and nose tackle Sione Po’uha (back), as well as backup quarterback Tim Tebow (ribs).

REX GETS HIS START IN ARIZONA

Long before Rex Ryan became the bombastic head coach of the New York Jets, or even the high-profile defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens, he was an assistant on the Arizona Cardinals.

Both he and his brother Rob were on the staff of their father, Buddy, when Buddy Ryan was the Cardinals’ head coach in 1994 and 1995 before getting fired. At the time, there were some complaints that Buddy Ryan never should have given his untested sons – they had smaller college experience, but not the NFL – jobs. Time proved Buddy right. Rex has been successful, and Rob, now with the Cowboys, continues to be one of the top defensive coordinators in the league.

“I appreciate Mr. (Bill) Bidwill for giving us the opportunity,” Rex Ryan said on a conference call this week. “That first year (in Arizona) we were one of the top defenses in the league. The next year, we couldn’t stop a nose bleed and (ownership) has every right to make a change.

“I’m only about probably a 100,000 times better of a coach I was then. Learning under my dad really helped me learn how to attack offenses. One of the greatest experiences of my life but unfortunately it never had a happy ending.”


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