ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — When Micah Hyde vowed he’d be ready to return in 2023 shortly after having surgery to repair a herniated disc in October, the Buffalo Bills safety was looking ahead to September.
Lo and behold, some three months later, Hyde resumed practicing on Wednesday opening the door for a possible chance of returning to play at some point during the playoffs.
“I didn’t sleep last night, and not because I was nervous or anything. It’s just because I was too excited,” Hyde said.
The 10th-year player, however, remained extremely cautious by saying while his doctors cleared him for practice, they still have the final say on whether he’s healed enough to play in a game.
“I feel good. I haven’t had any setbacks and they have been killing me in the weight room having me do a thousand lunges,” Hyde said, referring to team trainers. “I’m ready to go, but it’s not up to me.”
Hyde, who has hurt in a win over Tennessee in Week 2, wasn’t the only injured Bills player returning to practice. He was joined by receiver Jamison Crowder, who has been sidelined since breaking his ankle in a win over Baltimore on Oct. 2.
Crowder, an offseason free agent addition, opened the season sharing the duties in the slot receiver spot.
Both remain on the injured reserve list, but are eligible to practice over a three-week period after which the Bills have the option of activating them to the roster or ending their season.
Coach Sean McDermott already ruled both out from playing Sunday, when the Bills (13-3) host their division rival Miami Dolphins (9-8) in a wild card playoff game.
Hyde was initially projected to miss between six and eight months. After having surgery, he rejoined the team in Buffalo to rehab and also serve as a quasi-assistant coaching role.
Last month, Hyde was open to the possibility of returning to play but said the final decision rested on his doctors’ recommendations and evaluation of his neck.
Hyde is in his sixth season in Buffalo, where he’s been a member of one of the NFL’s top secondaries.
Hyde is motivated because he doesn’t want to miss out on a chance to be part of what could be a special season. Buffalo enters the playoffs the AFC’s second seed.
He’s also inspired to rejoin a team which has overcome a series of adversity this season: from two snowstorms a month apart disrupting the Bills schedule, to the chilling sight of safety Damar Hamlin going into cardiac arrest and having to be resuscitated on the field during a game in Cincinnati last week.
“All the things that we have been through, you name it, the weather, injuries, D-Ham’s situation, just seeing my boys, my teammates go out there and continue to fight ... I have to give it a go,” Hyde said.
The Bills are thin at safety. Hamlin, who was discharged from the hospital and allowed to go home on Wednesday, will miss the remainder of the playoffs. Starter Jordan Poyer, meanwhile, continues to play despite a nagging knee injury.
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