Tonawanda News


November 20, 2012



Tonawanda News — Covering some 30 yards, Byrd beat everyone to the ball by leaping head-first. He intercepted the pass and managed to land inbounds before sliding into the Dolphins bench.

"Any receiver that's ever played the game would've been proud of that catch," Bills coach Chan Gailey said. "That whole play was really amazing. ... And the timing of it."

It was a play NFL Network announcers described as "an Ed Reed type of play," in reference to the Ravens star safety.

Former NFL defensive back Aeneas Williams had a different comparison. It reminded him of Gill Byrd.

"When I see him do what he does, it's once again a reminder of some of the things his dad did when he played, and some of the things his dad taught me," Williams said. "And Jairus being the next generation, let's just say he has even more abilities maybe than his dad and I combined. How about that?"

Williams, who split his career between Arizona and St. Louis, is very familiar with the Byrd family. As a player, he spent offseasons being tutored by the elder Byrd. That's how he first met Jairus, who has come to call him "Uncle Aeneas."

Williams, who eventually took Jairus under his wing, had his first inkling of Byrd's potential while watching a high school tape.

"I think he was a sophomore," he said. "And just some of the things he was doing were electrifying."

As for now, Williams said: "I don't know if he's scratched the surface yet."

What the 5-foot-10 and 203-pound Byrd lacks in size and breakout speed, he makes up for with instinct. He identifies the play and has an efficiency of movement.

"I've told him, 'You've got the best feet. You come out of breaks and it's no wasted steps,'" Bills veteran linebacker Bryan Scott said. "It's bam! Gone. I'm telling you he is, to me, the best safety in the league."

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