Sports hernia comes at bad time

Jairus Byrd (Getty Images)

Jairus Byrd is the playmaking ballhawk Buffalo's defense needs. Instinctive in open space with great pedigree, Byrd was expected to contribute from day one. After having surgery on a sports hernia, he won't see the field any time soon. For a Bills defense on the verge of breaking out, it is an unfortunate early setback, says BFR's Tyler Dunne.

Poor Jairus Byrd. The guy just can't catch a break.

He couldn't join his teammates at OTAs because of his academic schedule at Oregon. And now he can't compete for a starting spot because of a sports hernia. OK, OK the reported four-year, $4.2 million deal might cheer him up a bit. But somebody please buy this guy a garbage plate or something.

The second-round pick had surgery two weeks ago and is expected to be sidelined until mid-August. At least.

Where does this leave Buffalo's defense? Well, waiting.

The front office did next to nothing during free agency to upgrade a unit that had only 24 sacks and 10 interceptions last season. Drayton Florence and a cloud of dust. Instead, Russ Brandon's brass opted for the draft. Byrd and first-rounder Aaron Maybin were picked to invigorate the Bills' ‘D' now. Not in two, three years. Now.

Both have great opportunities to start immediately after wreaking havoc in big-time conferences. That's why were drafted - the spontaneous game-changing play. Unfortunately, various circumstances are preventing that from happening. Byrd's injury and Maybin's contract holdout.

Byrd is not in self-pity mode.

"I'm a man of faith. I'm Christian, so I pray a lot," Byrd told reporters after practice. "Patience will see it through and in the end I'll be fine."

Patience. Fans have heard enough of that over the past decade. As far as defense's ascension goes, that's the case yet again.

The current timetable is two weeks. But it'll probably be longer than that. Sports hernias linger, often up to eight weeks. Certainly, the Bills will not want to rush a rookie into action.

A good thing, because Byrd should eventually be the big-play ballhawk the Bills need in deep center — the team wanted to take care of the hernia before more damage was done.

A bad thing, because Byrd can't compete any time soon.

By the time Byrd fully recovers from the sports hernia, the season may be well under way. With Tom Brady and Drew Brees scheduled as two of the first three quarterbacks Buffalo will face, Byrd's early absence could dig the Bills into an early hole. Whitner and Byron Scott are both physical safeties that'll hammer their bodies into the running game, but neither are particularly fluid in deep center. Brady and Brees could have field days.

Back in April when the Bills took Byrd, the plan figured to be to move Donte Whitner back to his natural position at strong safety. Byrd, and his playmaking genes , could roam at free safety. If a hernia is knifing Byrd's midsection, the plan must wait.

For what it's worth, Byrd appeared content after practice. He isn't freaking out over the setback. After talking to him one-on-one earlier in the offseason, I can attest that his calm demeanor is genuine. He's a down-to-earth, at-peace guy.

Byrd won't let the arrested development affect him mentally.

"It shouldn't be a problem," Byrd said. "I'm going to go about my business, competing to start. That's the way I go about my business."

It's not like Byrd will be a mute bystander through his first training camp, either. After missing out on offseason practices, he'll have a chance to grasp Perry Fewell's scheme in person. Not in a playbook in Oregon.

But as far as the Bills' defense elevating from good-to-great as they vow, Byrd's injury was a big blow.

Now, if only the front office and Maybin could dot the i's on a contract…

Tyler Dunne is the Publisher of BuffaloFootballReport.com and also writes for the Buffalo News, Olean Times Herald and the Packer Report. Contact him at thdunne@gmail.com

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