Kevin Byard admits that he has been waiting for another chance at the New England Patriots, ever since the Pats blew out the Titans, 35-14, last January in the AFC Divisional Playoffs.
Now, 10 months later, Byard and the Tennessee Titans get another chance at Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, Rob Gronkowski and the rest of the Patriots.
“Just thinking about the matchup with Brady and thinking about the opportunity to go up against Gronk again, I’ve definitely been thinking about it all off-season,” Byard said.
The Patriots have ruled the AFC for many years, and are in the midst of another outstanding season at 7-2 as the head to Nashville this week. The Titans are 4-4 and coming off a Monday night win in Dallas that might have salvaged their season.
Byard, of course, had a big hand in that with a momentum-changing interception in the end zone that turned away the Cowboys following the Titans’ second turnover in as many possessions.
Asked what he hopes to build on from there, Byard said he is mainly concerned with trying to figure out a way to help the Titans win.
“I’m mainly concerned about the team’s success. As long as we’re stopping guys, stopping the run, stopping the pass, if my other guys get an interception, I’m going to be equally excited,” he said.
This Sunday, the challenge gets even bigger against the Patriots and Byard could be matched up on Gronkowski a good part of the day, provided the New England tight end even plays. He has been limited this week in practice with ankle and back injuries. .
“We all want a piece of Gronk. But in the end, it’s not just about Gronk. It’s about winning the game,” Byard said. “It’s about doing what we have to do to win the ballgame. If he plays, he plays. We’re going to try to do our best to stop him. But if he doesn’t, then we’ll lock everybody else up.”
Receivers Tajae Sharpe and Taywan Taylor did not practice Thursday with his injuries. Sharpe, who was limited Wednesday with an ankle injury, was held out of Thursday’s work. Taylor has not practiced all week with a foot injury. He was in a walking boot on Wednesday but did not wear it on Thursday.
Tackle Jack Conklin remains out of practice and in the concussion protocol. Safety Dane Cruikshank missed another practice with a knee injury suffered Monday night.
Derrick Morgan was limited again as he attempts to come back from a shoulder injury, while defensive tackle Bennie Logan was added to the injury report Thursday as limited with a knee.