The Bills aren't waiting any longer to get Jairus Byrd healthy. The rookie free safety, who was placed on injured reserve Wednesday and leads the league in interceptions, is scheduled for surgery on Monday.
"He aggravated it in the (last) ballgame," said interim head coach Perry Fewell. "He's been limited in practice for several weeks now. He's a tough kid. He was struggling to make plays. He was just getting worse. He wasn't getting healthier so we had to make the decision to get it fixed."
"It is what it is," said Byrd of his situation hours after being placed on injured reserve. "I've been dealing with this for a while. Right now I'm thankful for the year that I had, but I'm just ready to get better."
It wasn't an easy decision for Byrd to accept, but after consulting with team physicians and realizing his condition was not improving he came to grips with the fact that his season would be ending early.
For the past two months Byrd has been practicing on a limited basis to save his body for games on Sunday. Over the last few games however, Byrd's playing time had been scaled back as even getting through a game had proven difficult.
"He's a competitor," said interim head coach Perry Fewell. "He wants to be on the field. He's a young guy that thinks he can contribute to wins, and he felt like he couldn't contribute to wins with the way he was struggling. It was what we thought was best."
Last week against the Patriots, Byrd played almost exclusively in subpackages while Donte Whitner played free safety in the team's base defense. Byrd admits he was far less than 100 percent the past eight weeks.
"Probably 70 percent, if that," said Byrd. "A lot of the stuff with deep balls where you really have to stretch, I really couldn't get there so I had to mask that and get more depth and do different things. It was tough. I thought we might have had a chance at the playoffs so I wanted to be out there, but now it's just time to get better for next year."
Byrd will have surgery for a torn labrum in his hip, an injury believed to have been caused by overcompensating for his groin coming off of sports hernia surgery in the summer.
Scheduled for surgery Monday, Byrd should be recovered in time to report for the start of the team's offseason conditioning program, which typically begins in late March.
"They said it's about a four month recovery process," said Byrd. "It's not difficult, but it is long."
The rookie safety is still trying to coordinate the rehab schedule post-surgery as he determines where he will be spending his time during the offseason.
What still bothers Byrd is not being able to finish the season, despite the fact that playoffs are no longer part of the equation for he and his teammates.
"It's very disappointing," Byrd said. "I always want to be out there with my teammates helping them, but I know it's something that I need to take care of in order to fulfill my obligations to the team down the road and to be the player I know I can be."
Byrd hasn't taken the time to reflect on his first NFL season in which he set a franchise record for most interceptions by a rookie in team history with nine. But even when he does Byrd will be doing it with the intent of getting better and not resting on his laurels.
"It's been a blessing and I thank God for this year," he said. "You can reflect at the end of the season, but I'm just the type of person where I'm always trying to push myself to get better. So you can't really reflect because that's how you get complacent and you get content with where you are. You can think back on it, but after a while you have to let it go and plan to come back next year better."