One can only wonder what kind of season he would have had if he had an entire offseason of work on the field leading up to his first NFL campaign. A late final exam schedule at Oregon along with sports hernia surgery right before training camp compromised the beginning and the end of Jairus Byrd's rookie season. Still it was good enough for Byrd to earn AFC Pro Bowl honors and finish second for the AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Award.
Houston Texans' LB Brian Cushing won the award Tuesday earning 39 of the 50 votes cast for the honor. Byrd was second in the balloting with six votes.
Byrd tied for the league lead with nine interceptions this season despite starting just 11 games and appearing in 14.Byrd suffered a torn labrum in his hip midway through the season, which required surgery, and eventually landed him on injured reserve in Week 16.
Ironically, Cushing also battled injury during his rookie campaign. He too missed preseason action with a knee injury and then dealt with rib, foot, shoulder and ankle ailments in the regular season.
Only two Bills players have ever been named AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and both were linebackers. Shane Conlan won the award in 1987 and Jim Haslett was the winner in 1979.