dangolka (CBS) — Huge receiver was one of many main areas of concern within the new-look Patriots offense heading into the 2020 season. That was not the case on Sunday evening, as Julian Edelman and N’Keal Harry dazzled in New England’s 35-30 loss to the Seahawks in Seattle.
Edelman had a profession evening, spectacular contemplating he’s had a handful of profession nights over his 11 years of catching passes. Harry was as soon as once more strong as he continues to enhance in his second NFL season, placing his Week 1 fumble into the tip zone behind him to the tune of eight receptions for 72 yards.
Nevertheless it was New England’s third receiving possibility who performed greater than each Edelman and Harry, an indication that the Patriots are closely invested in Damiere Byrd making an impression on the offense. Byrd — often called “Little Bud” by quarterback Cam Newton — led all Patriots receivers with 62 snaps performed on Sunday, taking the sector for 86 p.c of New England’s offensive performs.
Byrd was focused 9 occasions by Newton and answered the decision with six catches for 72 yards. It was a slight uptick in consideration from Week 1, when no passes flew Byrd’s method.
“As a receiver, you don’t know what the day goes to be like,” Byrd informed reporters on Tuesday. “Generally you get zero targets and generally you get 9-10. It depends upon how the sport goes. Simply do you project each play.”
They have been fairly large catches on Sunday too, with 5 of Byrd’s six receptions transferring the chains for the Patriots, together with two in third-and-long conditions. 4 of his snags have been for 14 yards or extra. The Newton-Byrd connection does have to work on their timing on fast outs a bit extra, as Newton threw behind Byrd twice. A type of was on the quarterback’s pricey interception by the hands of Quinton Dunbar, with Byrd operating one comeback route too many.
However Newton was snug sufficient to return to Byrd on the following possession, with the 2 hooking up for a 20-yard reception on a key third-and-10. It’s a connection that ought to solely get stronger within the coming weeks, as each newcomers proceed to lock down Josh McDaniels’ offensive system.
Newton mentioned throughout his radio interview on Tuesday morning that he believes the workforce’s solutions at receiver are already within the Patriots locker room. Statements like which can be an enormous shot of confidence for everybody operating out to catch passes from the quarterback.
“I feel it brings everyone collectively. I feel on a regular basis we’ve spent this offseason and coaching camp, we’ve got a number of confidence within the guys we’ve got to get higher and make this workforce higher,” mentioned Byrd.
And if the Newton-Byrd connection seems surprisingly cozy after simply two video games, it’s as a result of they have been teammates in Carolina for 3 seasons from 2016-18. Byrd wasn’t used a lot within the Carolina offense throughout that span, focused simply 20 occasions and coming down with 12 of them, but it surely does give him some familiarity with Newton. That ought to assist them each as they digest a brand new offense with out the good thing about any preseason video games.
It additionally signifies that Byrd has a prolonged record of nicknames from Newton, who all the time has a enjoyable identify (or six) for anybody he’s requested about.
“‘Little Bud’ got here my rookie yr in Carolina. The backstory, you may get about 3-Four completely different ones and I’ll let your creativeness run wild. ‘Little Bud,’ ‘Bud Mild,’ every thing alongside the strains of being smaller,” mentioned the 5-foot-9 Byrd. “D.B. — my initials — and ‘Byrd Man.’ I’m open to no matter.”
The Patriots didn’t win Sunday evening, however there was loads of good to remove from the defeat. New England isn’t normally a spot that celebrates ethical victories, however given all of the change in the course of the offseason and the truth that the 2020 season will go down as one of many strangest and most original soccer seasons ever, they rely for one thing.
And relating to the shocking performance of the Patriots offense this early within the season, Damiere Byrd hovering in as a strong No. Three possibility for Cam Newton is among the many promising takeaways from Sunday evening’s loss.