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Arizona Cardinals Injury Report: Status of WR LaRon Byrd’s Neck

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COMMENTARY | Arizona Cardinals wide receiver LaRon Byrd suffered a neck spasm while running a route during practice May 14, the opening day of voluntary organized team activities.

It was reported by Kent Somers of AZCentral.com that Byrd would undergo an MRI following the injury. Byrd has since returned to practice, and in an update, Somers paraphrased head coach Bruce Arians, saying the second-year receiver is "fine and returned to work."

However, Byrd returning to practice may not mean he is out of the woods completely with this neck injury. A neck spasm can have a wide variety of sources, so depending on the source Byrd could have recurring issues.

Say, for instance, the spasm was caused by spinal stenosis (the same condition Pittsburgh Steelers rookie linebacker Jarvis Jones has). If left undiagnosed, he runs the risk of serious injury and even paralysis if he keeps playing.

This piece from Bleacher Report medical Featured Columnist Dave Seibert, M.D. gives great insight into just what it is that Jones faces with spinal stenosis.

It is currently unknown whether Byrd's MRI took place or whether he simply passed all physical examinations and was cleared to play. If it is the latter and he did not receive the MRI, it may be a good idea to go back and run the test anyway. Perhaps they catch something and are able to nip it in the bud.

The 6'4", 220-pound Byrd has an opportunity to make a name for himself as a Marques Colston-type receiver; he uses his size very well and can get vertical when needed.

Byrd enters the offseason as a No. 4/No. 5 fringe receiver, likely battling rookie Ryan Swope for playing time. He has the potential to be a lethal target in the red zone much like Colston has been for so many years. Forty-three of Colston's 58 touchdowns, a staggering 74.1 percent, have come from within the opponents' 20-yard line.

That kind of potential is just that: untapped potential. It is not that Byrd will become "the next Marques Colston," it is the thought of having to wonder what could have been if this injury pops up again down the road.

Byrd is lucky this injury, which appears to be minor for now, took place while he was running an unguarded route. Had he been running a slant into the teeth of an NFL defense on a Sunday afternoon this fall and had that happen to him, who knows what could have happened. Somers was a witness to the injury and, according to his report from above, Byrd clutched his neck and fell to the ground after turning his head to receive a pass.

That kind of reaction at the wrong time could result in Byrd being blasted by a defender, risking further injury.

For now, Byrd will not miss any time due to this injury. It will be something to watch, however, to see if this occurs down the road at any time. His loss from game action would take away a potential monster in the red zone and leave the receiving corps shorthanded.

You may not believe it now, but Byrd will be an important piece to Arizona's offensive puzzle by season's end. That is, as long as his neck issue is history.

Shaun Church is a student of football statistics who looks for obscure numbers and provides in-depth analysis when something noteworthy is found. His work has been featured on Bleacher Report, Football Nation, The Boston Metro, ESPN.com and more.

You can follow Shaun on Twitter @Church_NFL

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