Jairus Byrd: Cause for concern or all for naught?


May 28, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints free safety Jairus Byrd (31) during organized team activities at the New Orleans Saints Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

After one week of New Orleans Saints training camp, people are hitting the panic button on safety Jairus Byrd. Byrd’s lack of field presence has been disturbing to many, as we’ve only seen him on the field covered up in a hoodie throughout practice sessions. Sean Payton has been mum (like he always is) on things related to Byrd’s injury during questioning, saying that he’s ‘progressing well’.

Let’s rewind a little bit to see the progression of events surrounding Jairus Byrd concerning his injury, dating back to when he first signed his contract with New Orleans.

  • 3/11/14 – Byrd agrees to a 6-year, $54 million contract with Saints
  • 5/29/14 – Byrd undergoes “minor” back surgery for a disc issue
  • 7/29/14 – Byrd removed from active/PUP list
  • 8/20/14 – Byrd goes through full contact drills for the first time
  • 10/3/14 – Byrd placed on injured reserve with torn lateral meniscus
  • 3/3/15 – Coach Sean Payton states that Byrd is two to three weeks away from being 100 percent
  • 3/4/15 – Byrd tweets that he was officially cleared for the 2015 season via his Twitter account
  • 3/6/15 – Byrd converts $6 million roster bonus to signing bonus
  • 5/28/15 – Byrd is a full participant in OTAs
  • 7/28/15 – Byrd placed on the active/PUP list

The big question remains, are we blowing things out of proportion? Perhaps the mystery and extent of Byrd’s injury needs a further bit of explanation to grasp with what he’s dealing with.

Let’s cite Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio from last season. Florio talked about the nature of approach with these type of injuries, stating that a conservative rehab is often what happens.

"“The lateral, or outside, meniscus of the knee bears much more weight and stress than the medial meniscus when running and changing directions,” Ryan told PFT.  “Because of the long-term concerns with lateral compartment problems, teams will typically treat lateral tears much more conservatively than medial meniscal injuries.”"

Head coach Sean Payton is not a fool. He has to understand that the opening couple of weeks of training camp can be very hectic and taxing on veterans, especially those players coming off of injuries like Byrd. It’s been fortunate for someone like Marques Colston, who also started camp on the active/PUP list after an undisclosed injury, to return to the mix and look like his old self. Obviously, they want to remain cautious with Byrd.

There’s no denying that this defense needs a healthy Byrd in their secondary, as he can bring so many things to the table. The bottom line is that patience is the central theme with Jairus Byrd. If Byrd is not back in the mix at a full capacity by Week 3 of the preseason (against the Houston Texans), then there’s a legitimate cause for concern. We should see Byrd ease back into team drills and game situations leading up to that. If he’s not towards full capacity by then, we can start panicking.

Until then, let’s give the benefit of the doubt to Sean Payton’s coaching.

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