Thursday, September 5, 2013

Byrd 'learning the scheme' days before opener


In the middle of an in-season week, most NFL players are learning their upcoming opponents' schemes. Buffalo Bills safety Jairus Byrd is still learning his own.

Byrd, who joined his team for the first time a day after training camp ended, is still catching up on the ins and outs of new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine's intricate system, which puts a lot of adjust-and-call responsibilities on the safeties.

The Bills take the field in three days to face the New England Patriots.

“Coming back I just wanted to ease my way into things,” Byrd said Thursday, via “A lot of the faces in here are new. There’s a lot of turnover. I’m just trying to learn the new scheme and fit in where I can and just soak up everything I can from coach Pettine and the other players.”

Byrd skipped all of the team's spring practices and training camp. Buffalo franchise-tagged him in the spring and failed to reach a long-term agreement with the standout defensive back before the deadline to do so.

The drama didn't end upon his return to the team, however, as he's currently nursing a foot ailment and is reportedly seeking a trade.

“I really don’t want to just speak on anything as far as that,” Byrd said of his never-ending contract grudge. “I’m here to focus on the team and playing football. That would be something for my agent to handle that side and talk about more.

"Right now I’m just focused on my feet, getting healthy and giving these guys the best chance for us to win on Sunday against the Patriots.”

He's here to focus on the team. His team. When, by now, he should be focusing on the other team.

Bills coach Doug Marrone, however, insists Byrd hasn't been a distraction.

"... from my standpoint as the head coach, he’s out here right now working. He’s been working like heck on the field," Marrone said. "He knows what we’re doing defensively. I still go back—he’s been a great teammate, helping everyone.

"He’s been a great pro. That’s what I evaluate it on, how he’s doing for us, in the locker room, on the field. I have zero complaints about what he’s doing.”

Neither do the fans.

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