Cornerback Casey Hayward played a big role for the Green Bay Packers in his rookie season. Unfortunately, he has been dealing with a hamstring injury that has forced him to miss valuable time in practice. There is no question the Packers need Hayward to return healthy soon in order to get some reps in before the start of the regular season.
“Casey is a very instinctive player, really smart player, obviously played very well as a rookie,” head coach Mike McCarthy said, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “But there’s a big-time battle going on in the secondary, particularly at the corner position, so I think that’s probably his biggest concern. The reps that he’s missing, these are very important reps, not only for just him individually but the ability to play in-sync with the guy next to you, play both inside and outside, because he definitely has a dual-role in our defense.”
Hayward recorded 53 total tackles, 21 passes defended, one fumble recovery and a team-high six interceptions last season. Green Bay knows how important he is to the secondary, which is why there is a slight concern whether he will be able to play at a high level right out of the gate after missing more than two weeks.
“I hope,” defensive coordinator Dom Capers told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “You hate to see a young guy like that miss as much time as he has missed. He’s a bright guy. He jumped in there last year and when he had his opportunities, he sure took advantage of them. So I have to believe he’ll do the same thing this year.”
Green Bay’s secondary has proven to be the weak link in recent years by giving up an absurd amount of yardage through the air. Obviously, some of this has to do with the fact that the pass rush has not been the same since the Packers won the Super Bowl. However, the secondary still deserves a large portion of the blame. Without Hayward competing at a high level, Green Bay could definitely be in trouble against some pass-heavy teams.