Orchard Park, NY (WGR 550) -- Officially through half of the total workouts scheduled for the Buffalo Bills' Organized Team Activities, franchised free safety Jairus Byrd has been nowhere to be seen around team facilities. Yet to sign his franchise tender, Byrd has been absent throughout all the voluntary workouts to this point in time.
After having his rights retained by the Bills in March, Byrd is currently employed by a team that will have him working with a fourth defensive coordinator in just five years in the NFL. Unlike any of the previous three coordinators, however, Byrd has yet to meet with the new man in charge of the defense.
"It's a coaching cliche, but I can only really deal with the players that are here. I haven't met him," Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine told reporters on Tuesday. "He's not here and for some of the other guys that aren't here, we have plenty to do with the guys that are. So we really haven't, as a staff, given it much thought."
They haven't met just yet, but have they communicated at all?
"No," Pettine confirmed. "That's above my pay grade. I got enough dealings with the guys here. So that's a situation I'll let itself handle it."
The one thing the Bills haven't failed to do is to add pieces to the safety group throughout the off-season. The team elected to switch former 2011 second-round pick Aaron Williams from cornerback to safety and also spent two draft choices in April on the position when they selected Duke Williams (fourth round) and Johnathan Meeks (fifth round). Those three joined Da'Norris Searcy, Mana Silva and Dominique Ellis in the off-season safety competition.
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Are the Bills already preparing for life without one of their top players? Pettine said it's far too premature to start figuring out the safety group, with or without Byrd's presence.
"It's too early to really start to talk about the players there and the depth there," he remarked. "We're rotating guys in different personnel groupings. We just want to find out who can play, so we're a long way from trying to hone it down and figure out who's going to be out there. To me, that's a little bit too far down the road to talk about."
In the two OTA sessions available to the media, Williams has been working at free safety with the first-team defense. If the situation with Byrd lingers in to the season, perhaps the once-corner has a chance at seeing the field earlier than expected.
"He's doing a nice job, and that's a difficult thing," Pettine said of Williams' switch to safety. "You can make the argument, 'Well he's a DB and he's staying at DB.' The safety world is very different from the corner world. He's very intelligent and he's soaking it all in. Every day is a challenge for him as far as new concepts in the playbook and I think he's done a real nice job buying in, and really getting quickly to the graduate level details of it."
In regards to Byrd, the Bills have until July 15 to negotiate a long-term contract with their franchised player. If they do not, they can only negotiate a one-year contract past that date or Byrd can just sign the franchise tender and be owed roughly $6.9 million in 2013. The workouts to this point have been voluntary. If the safety misses the mandatory minicamp in June, he will be facing fines from the organization.