Orchard Park, NY (WGR 550) -- Since the third preseason game of the year, the Buffalo Bills haven't received much good news when it comes to their defensive secondary. On Thursday, however, their franchise safety got a little more work than he has through the first three weeks of the season.
Ten practices in, safety Jairus Byrd hasn't done much in the allotted time for the media to view the session. When the defensive backs break off during positional drills, the Bills run different defenses for that grouping. While the starting players are out on the defensive side of the ball, the remaining defensive backs participate on the scout team, simulating potential offensive looks they may see from their upcoming opponents.
Even through Wednesday's practice, all Byrd had participated in during that drill was on the scout team side. Although not a sign of an outright breakthrough with his condition, Byrd made slight, yet notable progress by being on the defensive side of the ball for a couple of repetitions during that very drill.
He was not one of the base safeties, but rather the third safety in the defense they were simulating. He took a couple of reps jogging, but that ended once the linebackers came to join the drill. Once they did, Byrd rejoined the work on the scout team side.
He is one of three normal starting players in the secondary that has missed time due to an injury, with his being a condition known as plantar fasciitis in both his feet.
"It’s a condition that we haven’t been able to get over this one last hurdle," head coach Doug Marrone said of Byrd. "I think when we get over the one last hurdle; he’ll be ready to go."
"Like I’ve been saying since day one, I’m just going out there, getting treatment and seeing where I’m at each day," the safety said Wednesday.
Top cornerback Stephon Gilmore suffered a fractured wrist in the team's third exhibition game and hasn't played or practiced once since the season began. The jury is still out on the other normal starting cornerback Leodis McKelvin.
He left their most recent contest against the Jets in the first defensive series with a hamstring injury and did not return. McKelvin did not participate in practice on Wednesday and appeared to be limited on Thursday. Marrone has yet to render a verdict on McKelvin's availability Sunday against Baltimore.
It's likely that Gilmore will miss his fourth straight contest, but if both Byrd and McKelvin cannot play, it will leave the secondary severely depleted. Without those three players, the defense will likely feature Justin Rogers at left cornerback, normal starting safety Aaron Williams at right cornerback, along with Da'Norris Searcy and Jim Leonhard as the base safeties.
"I don't want to see them do bad, I've said that since day one," Byrd said. "But me going out there less than 100-percent isn't going to help the case either. So it's kind of like, I can't do anything about it. That's the tough part about it really, honestly."
After being listed as 'doubtful' for the Bills' first two games, Marrone designated the franchised safety as 'questionable' against the Jets. The Bills resume practice on Friday in Orchard Park.