Second-round pick Jairus Byrd was in the dark when it came to what was going on at Bills OTAs and minicamp because his school's final exam schedule by league rule prevented him from participating with his new teammates. This past week Byrd was still in the dark, only this time he was absorbing every minute detail of Buffalo's defensive scheme in the team's defensive backs meeting room, as he watched film for seven straight days.
"It went well," Byrd told Buffalobills.com. "My head is spinning a little bit, but it went really, really well."
Sitting alongside the safety prospect for many of the film sessions were defensive coordinator Perry Fewell and defensive backs coach George Catavolos.
"Coach did a great job of just explaining things and making it easy and showing me what I need to do," said Byrd. "Of course there's always a learning curve as a young guy coming in, but I'm just trying to take it in stride. Now I know everything so I'll go home and keep going over it."
"He did alright," said Catavolos. "He picked it up well off tape, but he still has to translate it to the field."
That's the challenge for any young NFL player that new to a scheme. The difference for Byrd is when he arrives at training camp in late July it'll be the first time since rookie minicamp that he'll be applying Buffalo's scheme to the field.
"You feel good about it, but at the same time there's a learning curve that can slow your play down a little bit when you have to think," Byrd said. "Plus I'm going to be out there with veterans. I'm catching up now trying to learn everything and then get into camp and apply stuff that I haven't had a chance to go over in OTAs. So it will be a process, but once I get it the instincts can take over."
And Byrd's instincts are considered to be one of his greatest assets. At Oregon Byrd had a knack for making plays on the ball as evidenced by his 17 interceptions and 53 pass breakups in just three seasons.
Unfortunately between now and training camp those instincts won't help him much as his self-study will require memorization of the terminology and checks when pre-snap adjustments need to be made.
"Now it's just self-study and of course I'll be in contact and they'll let me know what they're going to do and the different things I need to focus on," said Byrd. "Pretty much they threw everything at me and made sure I understood it and gave me some things to go over. So it's about self-study and repetition now."
So while the physical assets of his game are on hold until training camp, Byrd is preparing his mind not only for what he has to know in terms of Buffalo's scheme, but also what he must endure in his first NFL season.
"Coach Fewell and coach Catavolos have basically said that it is an adjustment," said Byrd. "I've heard from other people that have been through it that your rookie year is your toughest year. Just catching up and the length of the season and everything else, but I've mentally prepared for it. I'll be ready."