Green Bay Packers cornerback Casey Hayward says he's ready to participate in the team's offseason workout program, which begins April 22nd.
After being selected out of Vanderbilt by the Packers in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft, Hayward had a great season as a rookie cornerback, recording six interceptions and providing some much needed stability to Green Bay's secondary. After earning defensive rookie of the year consideration in 2012, Hayward looked poised to make even greater strides in 2013. However, a nagging hamstring injury limited Hayward to just three games and one start last season. Hayward was placed on season-ending injured reserve in November.
"I think I'm ready for it now," Hayward said via the Green Bay Press-Gazette. "I'm just here and I don't have to push it and I probably won't push it crazy then, but I'm in a good enough shape to finish everything and do everything."
Hayward's health is great news for the Packers, who ranked 24th in the NFL in pass defense in 2013. His presence gives head coach Mike McCarthy more flexibility with the secondary. If Hayward can stay healthy and return to the form he showed in his rookie campaign in 2012, it allows McCarthy to move cornerback Micah Hyde over to safety. Green Bay's secondary struggled as a unit, but the Achilles heel came at the safety position. The Packers were the only team in the NFL not to record an interception from the safety position in 2013.
McCarthy has talked about giving Hyde the opportunity to be an every-down player. Hyde led the team in forced fumbles in a limited role last season and his ability to make big plays in the kick-return game could translate well to the safety position if he can develop some ball hawking skills. But in order for Hyde to make the switch, the Packers need Hayward on the field.