CaseyHayward came up absolutely huge for the Green Bay Packers in 2012, putting together a campaign that perhaps deserved just as many accolades as Defensive Rookie of the Year winner Luke Kuechly. Hayward, who Green Bay traded third- and fifth-round picks to take out of Aaron Rodgers‘ younger bro’s school at Vanderbilt, expertly manned the slot position to help the Packers secondary push through missed time from Charles Woodson and Sam Shields due to injury.
Two cornerbacks that Green Bay told Hayward to study this offseason due to their similar games are Broncos future Hall of Famer Champ Bailey and excellent slot corner Chris Harris, which of course are high complements.
“No doubt,” Hayward said, via On Milwaukee.com. “Just being compared to guys like that from my coach (Joe Whitt, Jr.), it’s an honor. But, at the same time, his career has been so (long), he’s been doing it for many years. I’m just at the start of my career. Hopefully I can get to the point where he’s at –a multiple Pro Bowl guy, a Hall of Fame guy. But I’ve got to take it one year at a time, one game at a time, and hopefully I can continue to get better.”
Hayward’s six picks — and overall work that saw him graded the third-best cornerback by Pro Football Focus in 2012 — should help him snag more reps this training camp and eventually more snaps next season after getting 769 this past season.
“Interceptions are hard to come by,” Hayward said. “If I get my hands on the ball hopefully I can come up with more interceptions than I did last year, but I just want to get better. Statistics don’t show it all the time that somebody’s actually doing pretty well. So, if I can get better and also get a lot of picks, then I’d be very happy. “I’d be happy with whatever number comes as long as we’re playing well and my team is winning. That’s the ultimate goal. Of course you want to have one of the top defenses in the league. If we can get the No. 1 defense, that means everybody’s playing well.”