The Green Bay Packers may be forced to blood rookie Casey Hayward much earlier than they would have ideally wanted this season following Davon House’s shoulder injury.
Hayward is now in line to take his place as starting right cornerback for the Packers’ opening game of the season against the San Francisco 49ers, which could see the youngster forced to sink or swim in his first dip in the NFL swimming pool.
When the 49ers line up against the Packers and see Tramon Williams on the left side, Charles Woodson in the slot and rookie Hayward on the right, it doesn’t take a genius to work out who is going to be targeted and punters’ NFL betting lines are reflecting that weakness in the Packers’ backline.
While this is surely going to add some serious pressure on the 22-year old’s shoulders, the signs look good that Hayward will be capable of handling the job in hand.
So far in pre-season training camp, the youngster has looked a very capable option for the Packers management, impressing many in his short time as part of the Green Bay setup.
One member of the squad that has been impressed by Hayward is Jamie Jones, the Packers sixth-year veteran, who has seen enough cornerbacks in his time to be able to spot a quality youngster.
“As a rookie, he’s extremely smart,” Jones said to NFL news reporters. “He understands the route concepts of what receivers are trying to do, what route comes in the red zone, what route comes on third-and-10. He understands a lot already, and it helps him play a lot faster. As a rookie and as a corner, once you understand that, you’re able to play fast, and it’s showing up with him.”
By the time House returns from his shoulder injury, Hayward could well have already cemented his place in the starting line-up.