Danny Rockwell / WWLTV.com Sports
Though he wasn’t in full pads and a helmet, Saints fans got their first glimpse of newly-signed safety Jairus Byrd in black and gold, wearing his no. 31 Saints jersey and speaking to a group of energetic schoolchildren at Harahan Elementary Wednesday afternoon.
The All-Pro safety, who spent his first five years in the NFL with the Buffalo Bills, talked about why the Saints were the right fit for him.
“Their record and their track record speaks for itself,” he said. “Anytime you can come and pair up with a guy like Drew Brees and Coach Payton and the offense he's running, and then with Coach Ryan on the other side who has a strong defense and who turned things around there. That's a combination to win a lot of games….so it really sold itself.”
It didn’t take much for defensive coordinator Rob Ryan to sell himself to Byrd, who’s already enamored with the potential Ryan’s deceptive defense has next season. “He has some stuff in his head that he’s going to get out one way or another,” said Byrd. “Since I've been in town, I've been going in there every day pretty much, just talking, working out…We've talked, he's texted me when I wasn't in town and stuff like that, so we've been talking.”
Byrd had plenty of praise for his new teammates in the Saints secondary, including free-agent signee Champ Bailey. “You add in a future hall of famer, that's what takes it to another level,” he said. “To be able to learn how he breaks down the game, what made him successful, that's huge.”
He showed similar excitement when it came to matching up with Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro. “It'll be a lot of fun. Being able to get to work with him is definitely a privilege,” said Byrd. “Just seeing the way he works out there from last year and how they drafted him, I'm really looking forward to what he brings to the table.”
The skill-set Byrd brings to the table is one that Sean Payton and Rob Ryan have to be thrilled about.
In his five years with the Bills, Byrd intercepted 22 passes while deflecting another 33, picking up 240 tackles and three sacks along the way.
The former Oregon Duck was hesitant to divulge what type of role he would have in the Saints defensive scheme.
“I don't want to get into how they're going to use me,” he said. “That'd be a question for Coach Ryan, Coach Payton, so I don't want to get into their game plan and how they're going to use me and stuff like that, but it'll be fun and exciting. I know that.”
Though the part he’ll play on the field is uncertain, Byrd knows he’ll be embraced by Saints fans, with cornerback Keenan Lewis tipping him off about the passion that fans bring to the Dome each Sunday.
“I see the love that the city has for their team,” said Byrd. “He (Lewis) just tells me how much the Saints mean to this city and so just seeing that and how he talks about it and just kind of being out a little bit and just watching, observing...I've seen it.”