On the Fringes: Will it be second time lucky for Omar Bayless?

(Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports) Omar Bayless
(Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports) Omar Bayless /

Could it be second time lucky for wide receiver Omar Bayless after injury robbed him of a roster spot with the Carolina Panthers in 2020?

Considering Omar Bayless came into the league as an undrafted free agent, the wide receiver more than made his presence felt on the Carolina Panthers last summer. His starring efforts at training camp drew widespread praise from players and coaches alike, leaving the Arkansas State product as a potential surprise addition to the 53-man roster despite the odds being well and truly stacked against him.

However, nothing happens completely as one would suspect.

Any hopes Bayless had of making the team were dashed by a serious knee injury that forced the Panthers to place him on the reserve/injured list for their entire 2020 campaign.

A bitter blow for a player that had worked so hard to make a name for himself.

Carolina thought enough of Bayless to keep him around rather than just cut ties, which would have been the easier thing to do.

His efforts during last year’s camp are more than worthy of getting another shot this time around. Although there is plenty of competition for places at wideout where the Panthers are concerned, Bayless shouldn’t be written off.

Curtis Samuel is no longer part of the Panthers, as expected. But the additions of David Moore, Terrace Marshall Jr., and Shi Smith all come with varying levels of intrigue to ensure that no real momentum is lost with a group that has plenty going for it in 2021.

Omar Bayless must carve out a role with the Carolina Panthers at training camp.

Bayless has to carve out a role for himself with solid production both at training camp, during scrimmages with other NFL teams, and make the most out of whatever targets come his way in preseason games.

This is a lot to ask from a player with no real experience in the pros, especially coming back from a significant knee problem. However, if Bayless takes this challenge by the scruff of the neck and catches the eye, nothing is impossible.

Carolina also has the option of stashing Bayless on their practice squad if they feel he isn’t ready to attain a roster spot. This would give him additional reps to hone his craft in pursuit of potentially making a contribution somewhere down the line, which wouldn’t be the worst situation in the world by any stretch of the imagination.

There isn’t any great deal of pressure on Bayless, although he’ll be holding himself to high standards. He is a player to watch closely in the coming weeks to examine whether there are no further complications from an injury standpoint and just how well he’s settling back into Matt Rhule’s high-tempo practices.

In truth, Bayless might be right on the roster bubble currently. But the Panthers have enough in the way of quality options to potentially bring a wildcard such as him onto the team.

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Bayless was nothing short of luckless last season after an outstanding contribution at camp. Whether it will be second-time lucky for one of college football’s most productive receivers in 2019 this time around remains to be seen.