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PHOENIX - Buffalo Bills coach Sean McDermott didn’t have to watch the tape after his team signed defensive back Micah Hyde.

For a long time, McDermott said, he has followed Hyde from afar. The first-year Bills coach and former Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator said he would focus on Hyde when Green Bay Packers games were televised.

He always was impressed.

“The versatility, toughness,” McDermott said. “I remember watching Micah over the years just on TV, and watching him play different positions — whether it was nickel, safety, corner — and his role on special teams was a big like for us.”

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Despite a lack of speed (4.56 combine 40), Hyde’s instincts and ball skills have been an effective combination on the defense’s back end and in the slot. He has three interceptions in each of the past two seasons, a big reason his price on the open market rose to $30.5 million over five years.

McDermott said Hyde will start at safety in the Bills' defensive backfield. He figures to be the Bills' starting strong safety, but eventually Hyde could be used similarly to how he was in Green Bay.

“As coaches, we’re going to put him in positions to be successful,” McDermott said. “So that’s our job. Having said that, he’s going to start at the safety position, and then we’ll get flexible once he understands the system.”

The Packers chose not to extend Hyde a contract offer when the former fifth-round pick became a free agent this month, a sign the team wants to upgrade its speed in the defensive backfield. Hyde’s flexibility in the Packers' secondary was valuable over the years.

Despite the lack of a contract offer, Packers general manager Ted Thompson praised Hyde on Monday.

“Micah is one of my all-time favorites,” Thompson said. “Sorry it didn’t work out. We’re happy that he seems to be happy.”

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