Press Pass — Adam Hayward

In this edition of "Press Pass," I speak to rookie Adam Hayward, who was second in tackles in preseason and is now the immediate backup to future Hall of Fame linebacker Derrick Brooks.

MP: Congratulations on making the roster. That's not an easy thing to do in the NFL.

AH: It's stressful.

MP: Talk about going from being a sixth-round draft selection to becoming Derrick Brooks' backup in four months?

AH: On paper I feel great. But as far as doing it, I have a lot of work to do. I'm still young and there a lot I need to learn. I just need to stick with the coaches and the players and get comfortable in being his backup. If something were to happen to him, I need the coaches to believe that I can go in and say, ‘Yeah, he's stepping in and he knows what he's doing and he can get the job done.' I think I've proven that I'm capable of playing. I've made good plays here and there. I just need to really, really focus. Before I was just making sure that I was doing things right, trying to just make the 53 (man roster). Now that I'm on here, It's like, ‘I have to do what's right to stay on it and get ready to play.' It's football. Something can go wrong. Granted I don't want anything to happen to Derrick Brooks. But if something were to happen to him, I have to be ready to play and fill those shoes.

MP: I know in talking to you since you were drafted that Derrick is someone you modeled your game after. This is a role model and now you're his backup. That must be a little overwhelming?

AH: It is (overwhelming), it is. And it's hard because he's been in the same defense for 12 years now. He knows the ins and outs of this defense and he knows what's happening. He can see things (others can't) and that's how I need to get. I just work with him, watch him, see the little things that he does or sees to help me along. I'll probably be spending a lot of time with him once we get into film, just watching and staying afterward and trying to understand what it is that he does and looks for, try to get something from that so I can be ready to go when it's time.

MP: No one likes to see a player released like Jamie Winborn. But he was in front of you on the depth chart. Does it validate you a little bit to see that the coaching staff seems to have enough faith you that they can release a guy like Winborn?

AH: I do. But it all goes back to what they see in the future and say, ‘You know he might be able to help us.' But is he (able to help us) right now? That's the question. And that's what I'm more focused on right now. The fact that they won't blink twice when something happens, they'll say, ‘Ok, you're in. Go.' And they can run everything and they know that I know what I'm doing and it's going to get done. Just to see them get rid of Jamie, it kind of sucks because I was friends with him. Jamie helped me through a lot of things, understanding things when Derrick wasn't there. He was around to help me. But that's the way the business is. You never know if you're going to be here or somewhere else. I learned that quickly. The vets told me as soon as I got here to pay attention because you never know when you're time is up. You think you're doing something right, but there could be somebody else that they like. And you can be gone that fast.

MP: You talked about how you need to attach yourself to Derrick's hip. Have you picked up on some things during preseason?

AH: Yeah, I have. As far as watching him. I think it was in the Miami game. The way he took on a block, a big lineman, and in the NFL those things are hard. That's a 300-plus pound man running as fast as he can, as fast as you do. There's different ways that you have to take it on. I just watched him do it a certain way, knifing is what we call it, and he made the play. So I asked him about it and he said, ‘Yeah, do it that way when you first do it because then they'll be on their toes, they'll never know what you're doing. When I went out there, the first play they came at me and I did it and boom, I made the play. Stuff like that. Derrick Brooks is not 245 pounds, so he needs to know and anticipate what he's going to do and I'm trying to learn how to do that and learn little things like that from him right now.


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