TE Nate Byham "riding the wave" with Bucs
Lost in the shuffle of Sunday’s crazy, come-from-behind victory was the first career touchdown by Bucs backup tight end Nate Byham.
Byham, 24, a third-year-pro out of Pittsburgh, caught a three-yard touchdown in the back of the end zone in the first quarter. “It was awesome,” he said. “It was a really cool experience- it happened so quick.”
It’s been a whirlwind for Byham, who was signed Oct. 2 by the Bucs after spending his first two seasons with San Francisco. A sixth-round pick in 2000, Byham had a strong rookie year (playing in 14 games), but tore his left ACL on the second day of camp last year, ending his season. He had to be a spectator for the 49ers run to the NFC Championship game.
“It was tough,” Byham said. “But I was happy for my teammates.”
Byham, released by San Francisco in mid-August, was confident he’d get another shot, and hoped it’d be in Tampa Bay due to his connections: Bucs tight end coach Brian Angelichio had coached him at Pitt, and Byham faced Bucs coach Greg Schiano’s Rutgers team for four seasons. Byham, at 6-foot-4, 264 pounds, is known for being a good blocking tight end, and that’s how he’s mainly used, but he’s also caught three passes (for 18 yards) in four games (including one start) with Tampa Bay.
“It’s been great,” Byham said. “I feel really comfortable in the offense now. It took only a few weeks to get caught up to speed. It’s been good for me, I’ve came in at the right time and have been riding the wave. Just trying to take advantage of every opportunity I get.”
-- JOE SMITH