CLEVELAND — Buffalo Bills safety Jairus Byrd declared himself ready to play before Thursday night’s game against the Cleveland Browns, but he wasn’t on the field.
That’s because of a coaching decision made by Doug Marrone.
“I think it’s my responsibility to make sure that we put a player out there that goes full speed for a full week,” Marrone said after the Bills’ 37-24 loss at FirstEnergy Stadium. “If it was a Sunday game, I think it could have been different for us, but on a short week right before ...
“I was happy that he could do it, and I appreciate that. Now we’ll get him in there and get him practicing and get him ready to go.”
Byrd, who worked out on the field before the game, said his plantar fasciitis felt good enough to play.
“I felt good to go,” Byrd said. “He just didn’t think it would be best for me to go tonight. Ultimately, that was his call. He controls all that.”
Byrd thus watched from the sideline, as he has for the Bills’ previous four games. He said he felt helpless as the Browns made a few big plays in the passing game in the second half.
“You never want to see that and know you’re sitting there and can’t do anything about it,” Byrd said. “Being on the sidelines is not a good place.”
Bills receiver Stevie Johnson writhed on the bench after taking himself out the game with a back injury in the first quarter. He returned for one play before halftime but then went to the locker room and was done for the night.
Johnson grimaced and squirmed as the team’s medical staff initially examined his lower right back. Johnson eventually tried to test out the injury by making a couple of quick moves, but his right leg buckled. He turned to a trainer and shook his head.
Johnson entered Thursday as the Bills’ leader with 18 catches, 235 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
Before the injury, Johnson had two catches for 19 yards. Both were for first downs, including a third-and-6 conversion on a field-goal drive.
C.J. Spiller, who missed practice this week with an ankle injury, dressed and was effective despite limited touches. He ran eight times for 66 yards, the bulk of that coming on a sensational 54-yard touchdown in the third quarter. Spiller wasn’t targeted by a pass.
Leodis McKelvin also dressed but didn’t start at cornerback or return punts. The starters were Aaron Williams and Justin Rogers.
Jim Leonhard was the punt returner, taking his first attempt 25 yards to Cleveland’s 32-yard line.
Guard Doug Legursky dressed but has yet to make his Bills debut. He was the only player who didn’t get into the game.
Legursky was deactivated for the first four games with a knee injury suffered in the preseason. With him active, the Bills scratched offensive lineman Sam Young.
Also deactivated for the Bills were receiver Marquise Goodwin (hand), tight end Chris Gragg (healthy), cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore (wrist) and Ron Brooks (foot) and kicker Dustin Hopkins (groin).
This doesn’t happen often: Each team’s starting running back Thursday night is in his 30s.
Bills running back Fred Jackson turned 32 in February. Browns running back Willis McGahee, the Bills’ former first-round draft choice, will turn 32 in a couple of weeks.
Each led his team in rushing yards. Jackson scored two touchdowns. McGahee had one.
The Bills announced 7,500 tickets remain available for the next two home games, Oct. 13 against the Cincinnati Bengals and Nov. 3 against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Bills middle linebacker Kiko Alonso’s hot start earned him the NFL’s defensive rookie of the month award for September.
Houston Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins took the offensive award.
Alonso entered Thursday night on a three-game interception streak. He has 32 tackles, one sack, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and four interceptions.
He’s only the fourth linebacker in NFL history to have four interceptions in the month of September, joining Chuck Howley in 1968, John Anderson in 1978 and Jack Lambert in 1979.
The Browns honored iconic running back Jim Brown with a halftime ceremony, a public display that hoped to put their rocky relationship in the past.
Brown often has been at odds with the front office over the years. After previous team president Mike Holmgren fired Brown as special adviser, Brown refused to participate in the team’s Ring of Honor ceremony in 2010.
Jimmy Haslam bought the Browns last year. He fired Holmgren in November and rehired Brown as special advisor May 29.
Brown served as the team’s honorary captain Thursday night. A halftime ceremony featured a re-unveiling of Brown’s name in the Ring of Honor and a mayoral proclamation that Oct. 3 will be Jim Brown Day.
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