Byrd makes quick impression
HOUSTON – Dontez Byrd wanted to make a good impression. The receiver was at a job interview, so he put his phone on silent and locked in as if he was preparing to run a route.
But, while he tried to focus on the warehouse job he was interviewing for, his Apple watch started vibrating. He tried to ignore it but saw the Seattle area code. He almost didn’t answer but didn’t want to miss the call if it was football related.
So he answered.
“I need to answer every call because, being a professional football player, I don’t know who it could be,” he said.
It was Dragons director of player personnel Tony Softli.
“He asked me if I was ready to go, if I was in shape,” Byrd said.
Byrd left the interview with a job, but it wasn’t the one he expected. It was the one he had been waiting for.
“After that phone call I was just excited and ready to go,” he said.
He went straight home to pack and was on his way to Houston, joining the team last week. And now he plans to make the most of the opportunity.
“I just want to play football as long as I can,” he said. “I know I have a lot of ability and I’m just really getting started. I’m a raw receiver looking for some longevity.”
Since Byrd arrived late in camp, he didn’t get much time to make a first impression.
“Basically, I’ve just got to pay attention to the details and just do what I can do, control what I can control,” he said. “Being out there today, I got a couple of targets and I’ve just got to make those plays, try to make a name. Get out there in front of the coaches and make a name for myself.”
Byrd, who played for the Memphis Express in the AAF with Dragons quarterback Brandon Silvers, caught a touchdown pass early in Monday’s final scrimmage of training camp, hauling in a pass from BJ Daniels.
“It’s been a while since I’ve gotten a touchdown, so when I got that touchdown, it was like a big monkey coming off my back,” he said. “I just wanted to focus on the details from that point and just continue to make plays, be in the right spot.”
Since Byrd has only been with the team a few days, he has been forced to make connections quickly. Fortunately for receiver, his teammates and the coaching staff have helped make the transition as seamless as possible.
“When I got here, they came to me,” he said. “If you need help with anything, just come up to us. You don’t need to be afraid to ask questions. Coach (Larry) Kirksey did a good job of meeting with me and making sure I was ready to go. He didn’t just throw me in the fire and leave me out to dry. All the other receivers, they communicate well and I like that. It definitely feels like a brotherhood.”