Q&A with Micah Hyde: Keeping track of the Bills safety's potential return in the postseason (2024)

When Bills safety Micah Hyde suffered a serious neck injury after the team’s Week 2 win over Tennessee, he feared his season was over. The surgery shortly after, performed by Dr. Robert G. Watkins IV in Los Angeles, had Hyde believing his #23in23 slogan on social media meant he wouldn’t play until next season.

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Slowly but surely, Hyde began to ramp up. And then in November, Hyde opened the door on a return this season when he told The Athletic, “I would love to. We’ll see.”

As soon as the Bills opened Hyde’s 21-day practice window, the slight chance off in the distance of Hyde returning became a legitimate possibility. Now with the Bills in the midst of their Super Bowl push, Hyde is hoping for the best.

But with something as serious as neck surgery and Hyde only four months removed, what are his next steps? What does he have to do to return to action, and what is holding doctors back from clearing him? And what has motivated him through a quick track to try to return this season?

The Athletic caught up with Hyde on Thursday ahead of the Bills’ divisional-round matchup against the Bengals about what’s next for the star safety:

After going through the paces of practice the last two weeks, how are you feeling out there?

I feel great, man. I feel great. I feel good. Kind of knocking some rust off. Like conditioning is obviously there because I’ve been doing nothing but running this whole time, so my conditioning is there. But as far as getting my eyes trained, getting my eyes back, seeing what I’ve got to see, get my eyes on the quarterback, moving, get my feet right. Stuff like that. You know, it’s been fun. It’s been fun. I’m excited for all these guys to go out here and get a win and hope that one day I can hop back out there. I’m itching. I’m itching to get back out there.

Are you definitely not playing this Sunday against the Bengals?

Yeah, yeah. I’m 1,000 percent not playing.

Are you keeping fingers crossed that if you get to the AFC Championship Game that you’d be able to play?

I’ve been keeping my fingers crossed since the playoffs started. I feel like right after surgery I didn’t really know what was expected. And, you know, kind of just hearing season-ending, season-ending, that was kind of going through my head and I’m just like, “Damn. This sucks.” But once we got this two-month checkup and it was nearly healed back in, I want to say, November. That’s when I was like “Oh, you know, there’s a possibility.” Ever since there was a possibility I just said, “I’m just going to keep working every day and hopefully when the playoffs roll around, all the stars align and I’m back out there.” It’s still that same mindset. I’m hoping I just get better each and every day. Continue to do what I’ve got to do on the practice field so that it translates to the game.

Don’t count 23 out. 😤#23in23 | #BillsMafia pic.twitter.com/NbmQrs6Sdw

— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) January 12, 2023

So, what’s the step? Since you’re going through your second week of practice here, do you get on the horn with your doctor next week?

Oh, for sure. We’ve had some conversations here and there, but it’s kind of one of those things where he’s stuck in the recovery process, and that’s why I chose to have surgery by him because that guy knows what he’s talking about with a ton of people. History shows he’s done a great job, so I’m listening to everything he has to say. This was another step, putting the pads on, putting the helmet on and going out there and doing some drills and stuff like that. You know, just kind of keep progressing, and once we hit those landmarks, those next landmarks of maybe working my hands a little more, getting contact, then I’ll report back to him and see what he says. It’s just an ongoing we’ll-see moment. And I’m just, like I said, itching to get back out there. I want to help this team win and I just feel like they have also done so much for me this season that, I feel like it’s my duty to do everything I can to help them out.

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Was getting out there at practice for two weeks one of those markers you were talking about?

For sure. For sure. The biggest moment for me was that 21-day window. Just having conversations with Sean (McDermott) and with (Brandon) Beane, with my doctor, with the trainers, just trying to get to that point. I think there was a little convincing on my part going on with that. I just wanted to be out there with the guys. It’s one thing to be rehabbing on the side, but to be back out there running around and in the drills a little bit, talking ball, is what I wanted to do. So, there was a little convincing on that. I don’t want to say I have rushed this whole process because as far as my scans go and everything, everything’s looking good. It’s just, like I said, it’s on my doctor.

I know people who do it for a living have mentioned it’s a really quick turnaround. What gave you the confidence to think this could actually happen?

Well, I was 31 years old getting neck surgery, and I’m not a 65-year-old man — nothing against them. But I was in the lobby of my doctor’s office and I’m in there, and there’s a bunch of older people in there. I know people think about what surgery I got, they know there’s a timetable and a recovery process. But at the same time, mine’s different. I feel like guys in here, number one, we heal fast. We’ve been banged up our entire lives and it’s in our nature to do everything we can to rehab and get back, and so that’s kind of the mindset I’ve had this whole time. Yeah, we’ve had milestones in place, and once I got that two-month scan, it speeded up the process because everything was looking good at a shorter time than the normal. Yeah, once I got the two-month scan, I knew it was going to be a slight chance, a 1 percent chance I’d be back out here. But all I needed was a chance.

Micah Hyde’s first day back at practice pic.twitter.com/yYDrCOf6YW

— Joe Buscaglia (@JoeBuscaglia) January 11, 2023

Let’s say things go well for you guys, you win, and you advance. What is the timeline for the week? Do you reach out to your doctor Monday?

Yeah, probably first thing Monday, see what’s up. See what he thinks. Tell them what I did this week, probably get one more workout in (during Friday’s) practice and also in the weight room, tell them what I’m feeling, and then just communicate with the trainers. And just hope some good news comes with it.

How much have you been doing with your hands, like engaging and physicality?

Not really. I can’t really have any contact, so I haven’t really had the contact since but, being able to lift heavy weight again and I’ve really emphasized really pushing it around. I’m definitely stronger than I was Week 2 before the injury happened, 1,000 percent stronger. So that’s good. That was a big goal of ours to get our strength back and then some, and we did that. Running, I feel as great as ever. So, there’s been some things that throughout the way we’ve tried to just get through, and so I’m going to try and do that on Friday, see what Sunday’s like and then I’ll report back to him on Monday.

Could the weight be a good indicator, or is the physicality a lot different?

Yeah, it’s a violent game and you don’t have any time to think about what injuries you have. Stuff happens really fast out there. When you talk about something that I have — a neck or a back. If you have an ankle or something like that, you can tape that thing up and possibly get out there and move around a little bit and try to loosen up. But with my stance, it’s still on my body. You’ve got to hit, you’ve got to tackle. Sometimes, we talk about all the time, just get them down. You’ve got to just get the guys down. Sometimes you trip them, sometimes you grab at their legs, sometimes you let the guys run through you, but you’ve got to get them down. So that’s the thing. If I’m put in a compromising position where I’ve got to use my head, use my neck, that’s what my doctor is struggling with the judgment call on when to let me go. Because it’s still early in that sense. If you’re 32 years old, scans look good and you speed up the whole process, you’re not supposed to be having this grown man, violent contact four months after having neck surgery.

GO DEEPERHow will Micah Hyde's injury impact Buffalo? Former Bills safeties weigh in

I know you’re motivated to get back and help the team, but is it also a motivation to get back and play with Jordan Poyer because his free-agency situation is up in the air?

It’s been since day one. That was the hardest thing for me, and I’m not going to lie to you. When I had to leave here to go get surgery out in L.A., I was hurt, man. I was broken just in the sense that I feel like I kind of let my boys down, even though I didn’t. But yeah, I’ve been around these guys for so long. We have such tight relationships that like, I feel like when that happened, I let my boys down. Especially Po. There’s been a lot of things that he’s had to do extra this year, and you know, he’s been hurt. He’s been banged up. Not just with communicating on the field but also getting his body right. So in a sense I feel like I kind of let him down, and I just, this whole time I’ve been trying to tell everybody. I’m trying to get back. I’m trying to get back for Po. I’m trying to get back for this whole defense, this whole team because I want to be a part of it. I’ve learned so much from these guys throughout this whole process, that, I love these guys. These are my boys. Especially Po. Especially Po. I want to ride off into the sunset holding that trophy up with Po. If we’ve got to part ways, let’s do it the right way.

(Photo of Micah Hyde: Timothy T Ludwig / Getty Images)

Q&A with Micah Hyde: Keeping track of the Bills safety's potential return in the postseason (2)Q&A with Micah Hyde: Keeping track of the Bills safety's potential return in the postseason (3)

Joe Buscaglia is a staff writer for The Athletic, covering the Buffalo Bills. Joe has covered the team since 2010. He spent his first five years on the beat at WGR Sports Radio 550 and the next four years at WKBW-TV in Buffalo. A native of Hamburg, N.Y., Buscaglia is a graduate of Buffalo State College. Follow Joe on Twitter @JoeBuscaglia

Q&A with Micah Hyde: Keeping track of the Bills safety's potential return in the postseason (2024)
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