If healthy, position coach Joe Whitt has no doubt about Casey Hayward’s ability to fill the Green Bay Packers’ void at cornerback.
Hayward, however, isn’t healthy. After missing Thursday’s organized team activity, Hayward said he’s been dealing with a “minor” foot injury that has sidelined him for most of the offseason program. Hayward said he probably won’t practice until training camp.
At this point, Whitt’s not worried about Hayward. Not with two former basketball players (Demetri Goodson and Quinten Rollins) and a former baseball player (Damarious Randall) among the inexperienced group trying to replace longtime starter Tramon Williams and capable backup Davon House.
“I don’t care if he’s one of those guys (who’s starting) or not,” Whitt said. “There’s going to be two guys that are going to be ready to play (on the outside). I’m confident of that. If he’s one of them, that’s outstanding. If he’s not, somebody will play at a high level. I’m confident of that.”
Hayward has been excellent when healthy. As a rookie, he intercepted six passes and, according to ProFootballFocus.com, allowed a completion rate of 44.6 percent — good for third in the league among the 113 cornerbacks who played 25 percent of the snaps. After missing most of 2013 with a hamstring injury, Hayward returned to play all 16 games in 2014. He intercepted three passes and ranked fourth in the NFL by going 16.2 coverage snaps between completions, according to PFF.
“If you go through and look at the completions he gives up, his completion percentage is the best out of our whole group since I’ve been here,” Whitt said. “He doesn’t give up completions, outside or inside.”
Without Hayward on Thursday, the No. 1 defense included Sam Shields and Goodson as the cornerbacks and Micah Hyde in the slot. Tay Glover-Wright, Rollins and Kyle Sebetic formed the No. 2 trio. None of those three have played in an NFL game.
Asked if he thought the injury would be a setback to Hayward, Whitt said: “You’d have to ask him on that. The injury, I don’t know where he is conditioning-wise and all of that. I do know he’s been extremely positive. He’s been on the side helping the young guys, coaching the young guys. Everything that I’ve asked him to do in the meeting room and the walk-throughs, he’s done. But until you get out there on the field, I couldn’t tell you if he’s going to have himself in condition (or if) the foot going to hurt.”
Hayward didn't view the injury as a road block to the starting job.
"I don’t think so. I don’t think it’s setting me back at all," he said. "I know what type of player I am. They know what type of player I am. When I’m on the field, I make tons of plays. So whenever I’m healthy and on the field, I’m going to be full go and I’m going to be ready to compete and not just be a starting corner, be the No. 1 corner."
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