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Will Saints safety Jairus Byrd return to All-Pro form?

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Jairus Byrd will be looking to get his first full season in for the New Orleans Saints in 2015.  The three-time All-Pro safety suffered a gruesome knee injury at practice after playing in just four games last year.

Coach Sean Payton and GM Mickey Loomis made a huge splash in the 2014 free agent market after signing Byrd to a six-year deal worth $54 million with $28M in guaranteed money.  After striking an agreement with the ball hawking safety, the Black and Gold became immediate favorites as contenders for the Super Bowl.  However, things did not go as planned after the club finished 7-9, missing out on the playoffs completely.

Jairus Byrd was officially cleared last month for the upcoming season and he’ll be looking to return to elite form in hopes of solidifying that potentially dangerous secondary down on the bayou with CB Keenan Lewis, safety Kenny Vaccaro and newly acquired CB Brandon Browner.  The Saints will also look to get some help from 2013 slot specialist Kyle Wilson, who was signed to a one-year deal last week.

If we were to take the 2013 Byrd and throw him into New Orleans’ secondary, he’d be the best defensive back on the field, possibly the best in the entire NFC South.  He’s that good, or at least he was with the Buffalo Bills.

He has everything you want from a safety — speed, power, burst, ball skills, hands, outstanding coverage and run stop abilities and a strong work ethic.  Injury aside, we didn’t see all of that from Jairus Byrd in his first four games as a Saint.  He was still adjusting to new surroundings, particularly defensive coordinator Rob Ryan‘s scheme.

However, his numbers were improving game by game.  The unfortunate lateral meniscus tear never gave Saints fans a real chance to witness Byrd’s true talents firsthand.  Now, at full health and hopefully all of his setbacks in the past, he’s got the prime opportunity to display his elite style of football once again.

From his Pro Bowl rookie season in 2009, to his third All-Pro campaign in 2013, Jairus Byrd led all safeties in the NFL with 22 interceptions.  With some added weapons in the secondary, another full training camp to acclimate and the return of Dennis Allen (Saints secondary coach during the team’s Super Bowl run) to the Big Easy as a senior defensive assistant, it’s looking good.

Byrd is a special athlete with special football abilities and instincts.  He’s equipped with all the right tools, a winning attitude, a strong work ethic and an excellent coaching and training staff to make the jump back to elite status as a dominant safety in the National Football League.  Can he return to that glory again?  Yes.  The question is, will he?  I’m liking the odds.

Next: Repairing Saints locker room issues a MUST

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