It could be argued that Tennessee Titans safety Kevin Byard is playing the best football of any safety in the NFL right now, and perhaps the best football of his career.
Byard was recognized for his impressive production on Thursday morning as he was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Month for October by the NFL league office.
The 28-year-old safety registered 27 tackles, seven passes defensed, three interceptions, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in five games last month. He was the only player in the NFL with at least three interceptions and a defensive touchdown during that time.
It’s the first Defensive Player of the Month award of Byard’s career. He’s the fifth player in Titans history to win the award – the first since Michael Griffin in Oct. 2010 – and he’s the first player from Middle Tennessee State to win the award.
Byard was directly responsible for the Titans’ win on Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts. He had the game-sealing interception in overtime that led to the eventual game-winning field goal, and he also added three passes defensed.
“He’s always been instinctive, but I thought he was instinctive on that play he made (against the Colts) coming out of the post and intercepted (Carson Wentz),” Titans defensive coordinator Shane Bowen said Thursday. “It’s an impressive play that not many can make and he saw it, he recognized it, he took his shot and beat the guy to the spot.”
Byard leads all safeties with four interceptions through eight games – tied for the second-most in the NFL – and he’s allowed the third-lowest completion percentage (39.3 percent) and sixth-lowest passer rating (43.2) in the league when targeted.
Of the nine forced turnovers in Tennessee’s last six games, Byard has been responsible for four of them, according to ESPN’s Turron Davenport.
Follow Michael Gallagher on Twitter @MGsports_