As Buffalo's 2022 season came to a disappointing close, all Micah Hyde could do was watch helplessly from the sidelines.
Perhaps it was especially displeasing for Hyde, given the unknown heading into the 2023 offseason. After all, for the past six seasons, he and Jordan Poyer comprised one of the best safety tandems in the NFL, and his trusty teammate was entering free agency. But with the Bills re-signing Poyer to a two-year deal this offseason, Hyde is happy to continue their stellar rapport in 2023.
"I think that we've always established a standard around here, just for not only our defense, but I just think internally into our safety room," Hyde said Thursday, via the team's website. "We've always kind of had that chip on our shoulder. Guys just trying to prove themselves. So, we feel like it's on us to set the standard and throughout the years, we continue to try to build off that.
"We're going to bounce back this year and obviously have to stay healthy, and we added some depth so that's good to see."
At 32 years old apiece, Hyde and Poyer make up two of the five oldest players on the Bills roster, but their experience is crucial in 2023, considering longtime defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier is taking the year off from coaching. Head coach Sean McDermott is set to assume the role in the meantime. Hyde, who has been a mainstay on the back end of the Bills' defense since 2017, fully realized his status as a veteran while taking the field during the team's voluntary offseason program this week.
"Came out yesterday and started working out, and I looked around and I'm like, wow," Hyde said. "This is what the old head said would happen. It's really happening right in front of my eyes, but they keep me young and that's why we run every day and run sprints and conditioning stuff. I'm trying to beat them every day because I got something to prove."
Buffalo boasted the league's best defense the last time Hyde and Poyer were available for a full season in 2021. The 2022 Bills still managed to produce the second-lowest points allowed per game average (17.9), even without the likes of Hyde and Von Miller down the stretch.
Hyde, who says he's "feeling amazing" having fully recovered from his neck injury, doesn't need much more motivation to further the Bills' postseason aspirations entering his 11th NFL season.
"Guys are going to continue to go out there and play and they're going to plug in bodies to try to go out there and win," Hyde said. "So, I'm just grateful for the opportunity to be back out here. Kids are getting older, so I want them to see me play and remember. So, it's a hell of an opportunity for myself, and for my family."