PITTSFORD — Buffalo Bills coach Doug Marrone downplayed on Wednesday the transition safety Jairus Byrd faces to get ready for the season.
Meanwhile, the Bills were granted a roster exemption for Byrd from the NFL. He will not count against their roster total, but the league limited the exemption to the next two exhibition games.
Byrd will count toward the roster total when the league trims down to 53 players on Aug. 31.
“I’m really looking forward to him coming in,” Marrone said of Byrd, who on Tuesday signed his one-year tender offer worth $6.9 million for this season.
“I think he’s coming back ready to go,” Marrone said. “We’re coming back ready to get him out there on the field. We all know the type of player he is. I don’t think it’s probably as big of an issue as maybe people might make it out to be.
“You can see the great things that he’s done on film,” Marrone said. “Obviously he’s a competitor. … We have communicated with each other ... early on here in camp, not recently, though, to make sure that we’re all on the same page.”
The coach said Byrd stayed in communication with many of his teammates. “I’m sure that helps the transition when he comes back in of knowing what we’re trying to accomplish.”
Presuming Byrd passes his physical, he will have two weeks to get ready for the season opener against New England.
Had Byrd not signed his contract this week and waited until next week, then a two-week roster exemption would have meant he might not have been on the active roster for the first game and he could have missed a week’s salary. One week’s pay, at his current rate, would be worth $406,823.
The Bills hired Gregg Brandon as vice president and general counsel. He is the brother of Russ Brandon, Bills president and chief executive officer.
Gregg Brandon will become part of the team’s business operations department and will be responsible for providing legal support, advice and counsel to the organization.
The East Syracuse native comes to the Bills from XOS Digital/Collegiate Images, where he spent the past six years as vice president and general counsel. XOS Digital is a Florida-based company that is a leading provider of content management solutions and digital media services for collegiate and professional sports organizations. He oversaw legal matters for the firm and was responsible for drafting all license and partner agreements. He is a graduate of the Syracuse University College of Law.
“Gregg’s professional experience and diverse legal background make him a great fit for our organization,” said Dave Wheat, vice president of business operations. “Over the past few years we have recognized an increasing need for in-house counsel to handle the many day-to-day legal issues that arise, and Gregg will do an outstanding job in this new role.”
Several Bills players teamed up to pull a prank on Marrone before the final camp practice.
Receiver T.J. Graham set it up, and running back Fred Jackson finished it off. Receiver Stevie Johnson recorded it on video.
“They got me today,” Marrone told reporters. “Stevie has the video. They dunked on me. It was embarrassing. I told those guys, ‘You better watch out.’ ”
Marrone took it in good stride. His description:
“T.J. Graham was holding one of those backboards with a net on it. I said, ‘What are you doing?’ He said, ‘Well, we’re bringing this back.’ I said, ‘Wait a minute you’re bringing it back. Was it here? You’re not taking this from St. John Fisher? Then all of a sudden he put it over my head and the next thing I know Fred Jackson comes over and dunks on me and the whole place is going crazy. So they got me.”
Marrone praised the operation of the camp at St. John Fisher College. The Bills practiced for 90 minutes on their final day before a crowd of about 500.
“It has truly been a great experience,” Marrone said. “I’m excited about it. I think it’s a first class operation. … I believe the staff at St. John Fisher was awesome.”
The Bills do not practice today and have a walk-through session Friday morning before leaving for Washington, D.C. The Bills play the Redskins at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.