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Thin Bills secondary won't urge Jairus Byrd to rush back

By Tim Graham

Jairus Byrd does not feel compelled to play at anything less than 100 percent.

Not even with the Buffalo Bills' secondary ransacked by injuries.

"No," Byrd said this afternoon at his locker. "I mean, I don't want to see them do bad. I've said that since Day One. But me going out there at less than 100 percent isn't going to help the case either.

"I can't do anything about it. That's the tough part."

Byrd, the two-time Pro Bowl safety, missed the Bills' first three games with plantar fasciitis in both feet.

Fans have been frustrated by Byrd's absence on the heels of a lengthy contract dispute. The Bills placed the franchise tag on him, but he refused to sign it until training camp was over. Byrd didn't play in any of the Bills' preseason games either.

"He's working extremely hard to get back," Bills coach Doug Marrone said. "Again, I keep going back to that same statement I've said, and this is the truth: It's a condition that we haven't been able to get over this one last hurdle, and I think when we get over the one last hurdle he'll be ready to go."

Byrd was listed as doubtful on the final injury reports before the Bills played the New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers. For Sunday's game against the New York Jets he was listed as questionable, an improvement. But he was scratched from the lineup again.

Byrd explained he alone decides whether he's ready to play.

"Coach is telling the truth," Byrd said. "It's just really a matter of me. I'll go to him and be, like, 'Hey, let's roll. Let's roll.' It's really like that."

Sunday's game against the Baltimore Ravens would be a great time for Byrd to return.

"Yeah, hopefully," Byrd said. "I've been saying since Day One I'm going out there, getting treatment and seeing where I'm at each day."

While Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is a dangerous passer, the Bills' defensive backfield has been hurting and could be thinner Sunday. Already down top cornerback Stephon Gilmore, the Bills might be without Leodis McKelvin. Safety Aaron Williams will work out at cornerback this week.

"It's been tough," Byrd said. "The secondary is all about communication and continuity. So when you have moving parts, it's hard to get that rhythm in there and know where each person's going to be, their strengths and weaknesses and things like that. It's hard."


Aaron Williams | Doug Marrone | Jairus Byrd | Leodis McKelvin | Stephon Gilmore
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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |