As a freshman in college at USC, his coaches moved wide receiver Fred Davis to the tight end position, trying to take advantage of his unique combination of size and speed. He worked closely with teammates Dominique Byrd to refine his game, making a seamless transition to the position that got him to the NFL.
Eight years later and 3,000 miles away, Davis will look to return the favor, as he helps Byrd adjust to the offense in Washington.
Davis smiled when he was asked about the role-reversal situation and said, “Yeah, it’s something like that, it’s something like that. That’s kinda funny.”
Davis hasn’t played with Byrd since his sophomore season at USC, but he could still vouch for the skills that Byrd brings to the table.
“He adds depth,” he said. “He can go in there and run routes. He has to learn the offense first, but he’s a good security, possession guy for that.”
Byrd seemed a little bit less amused by the role-reversal, but took it all in stride.
“I mean, I’m two years older than him, but it’s not like he was my son–that’s my boy,” he said. “He’s one of my good friends. So I don’t think that the role has changed any, and we’ve always looked to help each other out.”
He did say that it was a blessing to be back with Davis, and he’s proud of the way his friends has developed as a pro.
“It’s great to be with Fred,” he said. “Y’know, not playing football and being away from the game, I got to watch a little bit more football. I think it’s really great what he’s been doing on the field, and he’s obviously been doing a great job all year. That’s the kind of player he is, and it’s great to be back with him because I have some familiarity with him.”
With the ending of Chris Cooley’s season, tight end has moved from a position of strength on the roster, into one of instability. This is a good opportunity for Byrd, but that wasn’t necessarily a deciding factory.
“I mean, I was looking for any opportunity,” he said. “Having Chris Cooley for so long, you know that they have the tight end and they love to use them. Then when you see what Fred’s doing, they love the mismatches, and they seem to play guys to their strengths.”
Byrd knows that his next opportunity in the league could be his last, given the bumpy road that his career started on. It’s been since 2007 that he was active in a game, bouncing around the league looking for work.
“It’s kind of weird, because you figure if a guy’s already in the game then he already loves it,” he said, introspectively. “I think at a younger age, I was taking for granted the opportunity that I had. I gained a love for the game kinda late, and I actually gained a love for working out and that kind of thing too.”
Even when he wasn’t on a roster over the last few years, Byrd has embraced the work that goes along with being a professional football player.
“I like the details of the game, I like the camaraderie, I like to get up and work out and have that structured schedule,” he said. “It’s a valuable lesson, not only as a football player, but also as a man going into your life: how to work towards a goal, keeping it in your mind, repeating it everyday.”
While his path to Washington may have come after a long journey, Byrd knows that his arrival is just the start of his work here. Where he goes from here, is really up to him.
“I just wanna show the coaches everyday that I’m gonna come out here and work hard, be a good guy around the locker room, and that I’m excited to be a part of this program,” he said. “I always asked God for another opportunity, and now I’m here.”
The faster Byrd learns the offense, the sooner he’ll appear in it. But in the mean time, No. 86 is an occupied number on the roster: