GREEN BAY —
Casey Hayward extended for a one-handed interception at the
Packers' minicamp Tuesday, looking nothing like a player who had
missed nearly a season to injury.
Green Bay would
like to see their young cornerback making those big plays again
The secondary was
restocked this spring with rookie safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix drafted
in the first round and third-year corner Hayward back on the field
after playing just three games in 2013. Coach Mike McCarthy hopes
they can be key contributors in a defensive resurgence.
Case is on the field, you can feel his presence. He's a very
competitive, very instinctive exceptional athlete. Ball skills —
you could put him on offense," McCarthy said.
have an interception last year after leading NFL rookies the
previous season with a team-high six picks. Getting him back full
time would solidify a cornerback position led by veterans Tramon
Williams and Sam Shields.
Micah Hyde, a
fifth-round pick last year, has been getting time at safety in
offseason workouts, along with Clinton-Dix, opposite returnee
Morgan Burnett. A starting spot is available there after last
year's starter, M.D. Jennings, left as a free agent for the NFC
North rival Bears following a disappointing season.
utility player. If a D-lineman goes out, I'm going to take that
position. I'll try to put on a little bit of weight," Hyde
said Tuesday. "But no, I literally, I'm a defensive back.
Whatever position is needed, I'm going to try to help out and do
the best I can."
didn't get an interception from the safety position last year.
McCarthy, in general, has hoped to find more impact players on
defense, while also limiting injuries. Part of his solution this
offseason has been an attempt to simplify the defensive schemes
somewhat to get more players up to speed on covering different
roles, if necessary.
we need to be right now," McCarthy said. "I feel very
good about our defense. We have never been this far as far as the
scheme, more personnel" plan has helped younger guys pick
things up quicker, Williams said, though it hasn't changed his
that much of a difference for me. For me, you have to always find
things to work on," said Williams, entering his eighth
season. "I think that's what makes guys great, when you feel
like you know it all. You know exactly what's going on, but you
can still find more to do to get better."
This might be
especially true for Hayward, hampered by a hamstring injury during
a 2013 campaign that tested his patience.
He said he
studied the game while sidelined and even helped then-rookies like
Hyde pick things up. Hayward has described himself as being
"90 percent" back this offseason from the injury, with
the goal of being 100 percent once training camp starts in late
seemed OK after leaping to grab that interception Tuesday.
"He had time
to sit back and become a student of the game in his time off. You
hate for missing time doing it, but sometimes you know that's what
helps you out a lot, just sitting back and watching,"
Williams said. "He's been doing that, you can see it in his
game, you can see it in the meeting room."