Bills second-round pick Jairus Byrd's wait is finally over. After missing the team's entire spring workout schedule and beginning training camp on the non-football injury list, Byrd began practicing with his teammates Monday at the team's morning walk through.
"I've been waiting a real long time for this," said Byrd following his first team work since rookie minicamp. "It's finally here and now I just have to hit the ground running so to speak."
Byrd was taken off the non-football injury list Monday morning. He had been placed on that list after signing his contract with the club on July 29. The Oregon product was coming off of a minor surgery and was not ready to participate in practice.
But now approximately two and a half weeks after reporting to camp Byrd is ready to go. The second-round pick ran with the second defensive unit in 7-on-7 team work Monday morning lined up at free safety, a position where Buffalo's staff is hoping he can make an early impact.
"It's still awkward right now being back there because I haven't been back there for so long," said Byrd. "I'm naturally behind just because of the time I've missed. It'll come. It just takes time. I'll learn and pick things up and learn from the older guys. The most important part is being out here now and I've started that."
His plan at this point is to steadily develop an on-field familiarity with the defensive scheme and his responsibilities in it.
"Right now it's slow and steady, but as we crank it up I'll get moving kind of like a train and start off steady and pick up the pace," he said.
Byrd felt he was ready to begin practicing late last week, but the athletic training staff pushed his return off until Monday. The cornerback turned safety physically feels all that has to happen now is get his body re-acclimated to football type movements.
"There's just a little (muscle) tightness still and you've got to break everything up," he said. "That comes from just being out here working, but it feels really good. I'm thankful."
Coming off his minor surgery, Byrd was not allowed to do much of any abdominal or upper leg work, so he will continue to do work in the weight room to strengthen his abs and legs.
Byrd is hopeful he'll make enough progress this week to convince the defensive staff to get him into Saturday's preseason game at Green Bay.
"That's the goal to get a few snaps," said Byrd. "I don't know exactly how many yet, but hopefully I'll get my feet wet a little bit."
Buffalo's coaching staff has high hopes for Byrd, who is expected to compete for a starting role at free safety. Whether the time he has missed on the field will compromise that opportunity remains to be seen.
For now Byrd isn't going to get caught up in what may or may not be.
"I know everything happens for a reason," he said. "Whatever happens that's how it's supposed to be, and I'm just going to work hard and go about my business as though I'm competing to start. And that's the way I go about my business. So whatever happens, happens. I know in the end I'll be fine."