Nearly 15 years ago, Charles Woodson won the NFL’s defensive rookie of the year honors behind a five-interception inaugural campaign.
When the now 36-year-old Woodson looks at Green Bay Packers rookie cornerback Casey Hayward and his six picks through 14 games, the eight-time Pro Bowler sees a play-maker who could be on a similar path to stardom.
As Press-Gazette reporter Rob Demovsky writes, one NFL scout this week had narrowed the defensive rookie of the year race to three players as the season headed into its penultimate weekend. They were: Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly, Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner and Hayward.
Hayward intercepted his sixth pass of the season in last Sunday’s win at Chicago. Like many of his interceptions, the most among all rookies this season, it was a game-changer. He picked off Jay Cutler and gave his offense the ball back with 1:25 left in the first half of a 7-7 game. Aaron Rodgers turned that into a touchdown, and the Packers scored again on the first possession of the second half, essentially putting the game out of reach.
“The ball just seems to find the kid,” Woodson said. “I joke with him like, ‘Man, they make it real easy.’ No, he’s played great, man. I know the coaches are very pleased with him. I think a lot of the credit goes to the coaches, as well, not only with Casey but all of our young guys that have been asked to play significant roles.”
You can read the rest of Demovsky’s story here: http://tinyurl.com/c7heemd.
*Following last year’s early playoff exit despite being the No. 1 seed, Press-Gazette sports editor Mike Vandermause opines the Packers might be better served to avoid another first-round bye like last season with concurring thoughts from defensive backs Sam Shields and Woodson (http://tinyurl.com/cc8937g).
*The Press-Gazette beat writers pick the outcome of today’s game between the Packers and Tennessee Titans (http://tinyurl.com/ccgrp43).
*Press-Gazette reporter Pete Dougherty gives you three things to watch for in today’s game, including the battle between the continued shifting of the Packers’ offensive line and the matchup between Green Bay’s defensive line and the offensive line of the Titans (http://tinyurl.com/chsf3bd).