The 6-foot, 195-pounder Hayden missed the entire 2013 season after suffering a torn hamstring during the Bears' Family Fest practice Aug. 3 at Soldier Field. The injury, which required surgery, occurred six days before the team's preseason opener against the Carolina Panthers. Initially the injury was not thought to be too detrimental to Hayden's season, but after he underwent two MRIs and couldn't stand on his own, Bears camp realized they had lost their nickle secondary for the season.
Placed on the injured reserve list before preseason even began, Hayden is eager to return to the field.
"My season didn't end the way I wanted it to," Hayden told ChicagoBears.com. "Of course, for everybody around here it didn't end the way that any of us expected it to. But for me personally as a player you just don't want to go out that way. I'm looking at this as unfinished business."Drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in 2005 and moving on to the Atlanta Falcons for one season in 2011, the 30-year-old Hayden is no stranger to injuries. He played in only eight games for the Falcons and was placed on the injured reserve list after suffering a neck injury and being carted off the field on November 20, 2011.
After being released by the Falcons, the Bears signed Hayden in 2012, where he played all 16 games and was an immediate asset to their secondary. He posted 37 combined tackles, four fumble recoveries and had one interception for 39 yards.
|John Martinez Pavliga via Wikimedia Commons|
It may seem as a gamble for the Bears to sign a 30 year old corner back that tore his hamstring in training camp last year, but Hayden's career numbers are enough to justify the one-year-contract. He has a career regular season 359 combined tackles, four forced fumbles and 12 interceptions. In addition, Hayden has appeared in 10 postseason games with five starts, compiling 29 tackles, three interceptions, four passes defensed, one forced fumble and four special teams stops. Again, let's not forget his pick-six in the big game to become a world champion.
Asked whether he's hungry to return after missing an entire season with an injury, Hayden said: "I'm starving. It was tough from Day 1 watching the first preseason game to the last game against Green Bay. The season left a bitter taste and it's been my motivation ever since I got injured. I'm just ready to bounce back."
Hayden also is very appreciative of the Bears' organization, for taking him back and having faith. "Hats off to the front office and the coaching staff here in Chicago for still believing in me. I'm happy about that and I'm happy to be back."
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