Friday marked the first time in nearly two months Casey Hayward practiced in back-to-back days, but the Green Bay Packers’ cornerback will still miss his fifth consecutive game this Sunday against Baltimore.
Limited primarily to individual work, Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Hayward still isn't ready to return from the hamstring injury that kept him out of the first month of training camp before he aggravated it in an Aug. 23 preseason game against Seattle.
If there was one positive takeaway, it was the fact Hayward was cleared to go through individual drills again on Friday, marking the first time since Aug. 20-21 that he’s practiced in consecutive days.
“I think Casey is further ahead this week than he was last week, but he’s not ready to go," McCarthy said. “Coaches will have information probably Tuesday morning because that’s how we go about it as far as game planning and how that affects our game plan.”
Despite parting ways with Charles Woodson earlier this year and now being without Hayward, the Packers’ secondary has come together over the last month behind veteran Tramon Williams, fourth-year cornerback Sam Shields and Davon House.
It started during their second regular-season game against Washington when the Packers began moving Williams into Hayward’s usual position in the slot and bringing in the 6-foot-1 House to guard on the perimeter in sub-packages.
In Sunday’s 22-9 win over Detroit, defensive coordinator Dom Capers established a heavy nickel-package game plan that resulted in House playing all but five defensive plays.
Playing without star receiver Calvin Johnson, the Lions to only nine points while franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford was contained to 262 passing yards and one late touchdown.
For that reason, the Packers will have some serious decisions to make about their secondary whenever Hayward returns be it next week or next month.
A defensive rookie of the year candidate for his team-high six interceptions in 2012, Hayward will need to earn back his spot in the secondary.
“When he is healthy, he’s going to have to show he’s deserving to get into the mix with the other guys,” Packers cornerback coach Joe Whitt said. “I’m not just going to put him in there over what he did last year. You have to be deserving and the guys who are playing the best will play.”
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