Lately it seems as though the Buffalo Bills can’t step off a bus without losing another player to injury. This young team has showed plenty of promise through the first five weeks of the NFL season, but every step forward has been met with a devastating injury and the inevitable chorus of frustrated screams from mustachioed men wearing Bruce Smith jerseys.
After losing several key defensive players early on, including Stephon Gilmore, Ron Brooks, and Alex Carrington, the Bills suffered perhaps the most heart-breaking injury of the season last week against the Cleveland Browns. EJ Manuel, the Bills rookie quarterback and future franchise player, was forced to leave the game early in the third quarter with a sprained LCL after a hard hit from Browns safety Tashaun Gipson.
Luckily for Bills fans, there has finally been some good news on the injury front. All-Star safety Jairus Byrd will reportedly play in Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Byrd’s return should serve to bolster what is already shaping up to be a formidable Bills defense. New defensive coordinator Mike Pettine has his personnel playing at their full potential. Although his patented high-risk, aggressive scheme has been somewhat inconsistent so far, the unit has turned in some huge performances, most notably in game-saving situations.
This is a refreshing change for Buffalo, a team that has become notorious for giving up winnable games after failing to come up with stops down the stretch. Despite the obvious improvement, the defense still has plenty of developing to do, a process that should be expedited by the return of one of the NFL’s best safeties.
Simply put, the sooner Jairus Byrd can start making plays again, the better. Although Buffalo’s offense is currently a mess, their defense is finally developing some consistency. With any luck, it may even win the Bills some games until they get their franchise QB back.