Pittsford, NY (WGR 550) -- As 88 players that signed contracts with the Buffalo Bills showed up for the start of training camp on Friday, safety Jairus Byrd was once again nowhere to be seen.
By now, most Bills fans know his story quite well. After having been franchised tagged by the Bills in March, the safety has yet to sign his tender, did not agree to a long-term contract with the team by the July 15 deadline and now will stay at home to start training camp.
"He'll be missed a lot. He's a good player," said Buffalo's top cornerback Stephon Gilmore. "I learned a lot from him when he was here. He's a playmaker. You don't come across too many guys like him because he's a great player."
"He's a great player and we definitely want to have him back as soon as possible," defensive end Mario Williams added. "I'm hopeful that it works out."
When it comes to a player that abstains from training camp, sometimes one wonders if there is any resentment from teammates that are there working diligently every day. It's a given that some fans would be particularly perturbed by the move, but what about the people that actually work with and see him every day?
"It ain't frustrating for me. I know this game is a business," Gilmore remarked. "They've got to handle their business. I'm just looking forward to him coming back on the team and helping us win games."
Wide receiver Stevie Johnson, who might have been facing a franchise tag situation of his very own had he not re-signed just a few days before the start of franchise tagging deadline, tends to agree.
"I'm on both sides, you know? I understand how the business goes, being in that situation. Then I understand who it is as a player. With his situation, he's been to Pro Bowls two years," he said. "At the end of the day, that's between them."
If Byrd does elect to sign his franchise tag, or if he negotiates a different one-year deal with the team, there is going to have to be a major game of catch-up played by the free safety.
The team has moved on to a new defensive coordinator, which will be Byrd's fourth new defense he has to learn within his first five seasons in the NFL. What will be the key for the safety in a likely expedited process whenever he does report?
"As long as he knows the terminology, I think that's the biggest thing," weighed in Williams. "Being able to communicate. We've got to be able to communicate with everything we've got going in. I think the biggest thing is just him being able to pick up on the terminology and come out and play fast. He's a heck of an athlete so that's not going to be a problem."
With the terminology of defensive coordinator Mike Pettine's new scheme being the biggest obstacle, it's fair to wonder how long it takes a trained professional to get that side of things straightened away in their mind.
"[It took me] a week," Williams said. "It depends on the type of guy, and I know [Byrd]'s a great guy and a smart guy. He's very intelligent, so I'm pretty sure that it won't be too difficult for him to pick up on."
Perhaps making it even easier, the big pass rusher hinted that some of the teammates have been feeding Byrd some insight in to how the defense is being run under Pettine's leadership. His teammate in the secondary, Gilmore, says he's been giving the safety some knowledge about the new defense.
"Yeah, I try to give him a little bit of stuff so he don't just come back not knowing nothing," the cornerback replied. "Just try to give him a little bit of here and a little bit of there. I think he'll be ready to go when he comes back."
Byrd will not be fined for missing any of training camp, because he is still without a signed contract and is not technically obligated to be there. His teammates will have a workout on Saturday, and then conduct their first official practice on Sunday night at St. John Fisher College.