Jairus Byrd does not feel compelled to play at anything less than 100 percent. Not even with the Buffalo Bills’ secondary ransacked by injuries.
“No,” Byrd said Wednesday at his locker. “I mean, I don’t want to see them do bad. I’ve said that since Day One. But me going out there at less than 100 percent isn’t going to help the case, either.
“I can’t do anything about it. That’s the tough part.”
Byrd, the two-time Pro Bowl safety, missed the Bills’ first three games with plantar fasciitis in both feet.
Fans have been frustrated by Byrd’s absence on the heels of a lengthy contract dispute. The Bills placed the franchise tag on him, but he refused to sign it until training camp was over. Byrd didn’t play in any of the Bills’ preseason games either.
“He’s working extremely hard to get back,” Bills coach Doug Marrone said. “Again, I keep going back to that same statement I’ve said, and this is the truth: It’s a condition that we haven’t been able to get over this one last hurdle, and I think when we get over the one last hurdle he’ll be ready to go.”
Byrd was listed as doubtful on the final injury reports before the Bills played the New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers. For Sunday’s game against the New York Jets he was listed as questionable, an improvement. But he was scratched from the lineup again.
Byrd explained he alone decides whether he’s ready to play.
“Coach is telling the truth,” Byrd said. “It’s just really a matter of me. I’ll go to him and be, like, ‘Hey, let’s roll. Let’s roll.’ It’s really like that.”
Byrd was limited Wednesday. He says he hopes he can improve by Sunday, when the Bills face the Baltimore Ravens.
“Yeah, hopefully,” Byrd said. “I’ve been saying since Day One I’m going out there, getting treatment and seeing where I’m at each day.”
While Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is a dangerous passer, the Bills’ defensive backfield has been hurting and could be thinner Sunday. Already down top cornerback Stephon Gilmore, the Bills might be without Leodis McKelvin. Safety Aaron Williams will work out at cornerback this week.
“It’s been tough,” Byrd said. “The secondary is all about communication and continuity. So when you have moving parts, it’s hard to get that rhythm in there and know where each person’s going to be, their strengths and weaknesses and things like that. It’s hard.”
Besides Byrd, defensive tackle Marcell Dareus (ankle) also was limited. Receiver Stevie Johnson (hamstring), guard Kraig Urbik (knee), defensive end Mario Williams (ankle) and defensive tackle Kyle Williams (sore Achilles) were among those who did not practice.
But Marrone said all of those players, except Byrd, were expected to be ready by Sunday.
Running back C.J. Spiller practiced fully on a sore quadriceps. He and Mario Williams expressed confidence they’ll play against Baltimore.
“The biggest thing, I wasn’t hesitant,” Spiller said. “That was really going to be my biggest mental hurdle, if I was going to be hesitant on my cut, and I wasn’t. I was able to push off it. Still some soreness in it, not completely where I want it to be. But I think by Sunday it’ll be completely gone.”
Guard Doug Legursky (knee) practiced fully. Colin Brown remained the starter at left guard.
Marrone acknowledged he should have had his offense slow down after taking a sack late in the first half of Sunday’s loss to the New York Jets.
The Bills got the ball on their own 25 with 1:41 left in the half. EJ Manuel was sacked for an 8-yard loss on first down. Manuel completed a 9-yard pass on second down, but then threw incomplete on third.
The Jets took possession after a punt on their own 34-yard line with 43 seconds left. The Jets had enough time to drive for a 47-yard field goal.
Marrone explained his thought process and admitted he made a judgment error.
“Looking back, here’s exactly what was going through my mind,” he said. “We were going to get the ball in the second half. I tend to be aggressive before that. What happened was we took the sack for minus-9. We come back and make it up on second down. We get 9 or 10 yards.
“Now we’re down to a manageable third down. We actually wanted to take a shot vertically down the field, and we wound up throwing an intermediate route incomplete.”
Marrone said he should have run on second and third down to make the Jets use their timeouts or to run clock.
“When we took the sack and we were at second and 18 or 19 – and I told this to the team – we all make mistakes. In hindsight, we go back, we take the sack, the percentages of making second and 18 to a first down. … Run the football, either to use the timeouts or the clock runs down, and go.
“So you’re exactly right. I’m not going to sit up here and defend that it was the right decision.”
Baltimore will be without starting receiver Jacoby Jones, who is out with a sprained knee. Jones’ replacement, Marlon Brown, did not practice Wednesday due to a neck injury.
The Ravens are hoping to get star running back Ray Rice back this week from a hip flexor strain. Rice was limited. The only other starter who was limited was defensive end Chris Canty (thigh).