Bills safety 'Hydes' his emotions preparing to face Packers
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Bills safety Micah Hyde did his best Wednesday to mask whatever bitterness he once had toward the Green Bay Packers in preparing to face his former team for the first time since his departure.
"I've got nothing but love for the organization," Hyde said following practice as the Bills (1-2) prepare to travel to play Green Bay (1-1-1) on Sunday. "I wouldn't say it was a wound. I wouldn't say I was cut open."
And yet, that's exactly the opposite of what the sixth-year player told two reporters in November, some 10 months after signing a five-year contract with the Bills in free agency.
Hyde was so upset upon learning the Packers weren't going to make an offer to re-sign him with six games left in the 2016 season, he said: "It was like someone stabbed me in the back."
Standing alone at his locker Wednesday, after insisting he bore no ill will toward the Packers, Hyde broke into a laugh upon being reminded of his previous comments.
"Do you have proof?" he asked, before acknowledging what he said.
"Maybe," Hyde told The Associated Press, "I put a Band-Aid on it and it's healed up since then."
As a team leader, Hyde is in no position to stir up bad blood or create bulletin-board material in preparing to face an Aaron Rodgers-led offense at a time Buffalo's defense is beginning to show signs of jelling.
After allowing 75 points and 653 yards through the first six quarters of the season, the Bills have bounced back by allowing nine points and 375 yards over the past six quarters.
It's a stretch capped by a 27-6 win at Minnesota on Sunday, in which Buffalo forced three takeaways and limited the Vikings to 14 yards rushing — matching the second-fewest allowed in team history.
"I feel like the last six quarters was our brand of football," Hyde said. "The first six quarters, I can't answer for that. But it's good to see we're making strides, getting better."
And he understands the progress can be easily derailed by Rodgers, even if the quarterback might be limited by a left knee injury.
"I'll take Aaron Rodgers hobbling over most of the quarterbacks in the league," Hyde said. "He still has the intelligence, has the arm. He's going to get it done regardless."
Rodgers hasn't forgotten what Hyde can do either.
"Look at the time he spent with us. He played corner for us and made big plays. He played safety and made big plays, returned punts," Rodgers said. "You hate to see a guy like that go."
Packers coach Mike McCarthy called Hyde "a stud," while saying there was "a business aspect" to why Green Bay didn't re-sign him.
Hyde played a jack-of-all-trades role during his four seasons in Green Bay after being selected in the fifth round of the 2013 draft. He played safety and cornerback and also returned three punts for touchdowns.
That wasn't enough for the Packers to keep him, which led to the Bills making Hyde an offer on the first day of the free-agency signing period.
Hyde immediately formed a bond with safety Jordan Poyer, another free-agent addition, and rookie first-round pick cornerback Tre'Davious White.
The three combined for 14 of Buffalo's 18 interceptions, tied for the sixth-most in the NFL last season. Hyde had a career-best five interceptions to earn his first All-Pro selection by being named to the second team.
He credited his success to being able to focus on playing just one role, while also fueled by how his tenure ended in Green Bay.
"When a team doesn't want you, and basically tells you straight up they don't want you, it's kind of like motivation to keep getting better," Hyde said.
The secondary has struggled this season by having already given up seven touchdowns passing, after allowing just 14 last year.
Hyde hopes the Bills can build off how they played against Minnesota.
What he doesn't care for is having the focus placed on his return to Lambeau Field.
"We're 1-2, coming off a big win. We're trying to get this thing rolling," Hyde said. "It's not about Micah Hyde going back to Lambeau. It's about the Buffalo Bills playing the Green Bay Packers for a win."