Green Bay Packers cornerback Casey Hayward sat out of the offseason program after undergoing surgery shortly after the 2014 season to repair a stress fracture in his foot.
Hayward said Friday that he had a permanent screw inserted to stabilize the healing. The fourth-year cornerback was cleared to return in time for first practice of training camp on Thursday and is the frontrunner to replace Tramon Williams as the starting boundary cornerback opposite Sam Shields.
"The bone is healed. My foot is healed," Hayward said. "I just have to deal with a little nagging pain here and there but everybody around here is dealing with nagging pains. I'm not going to do any complaining about it. I'm going to stay on my rehab, make sure my cleats are right, fitted right, things like that."
The biggest challenge for Hayward is getting back into peak football condition. He was able to start cutting on his foot and doing leg workouts without any restriction about three weeks before the start of training camp.
Stress fractures develop over extended periods, but Hayward said he didn't feel it affected much last season. By having the procedure done shortly after the season ended, it allowed him a large window for recovery.
"It didn't really affect me at all," Hayward said. "I kind of felt it after the season and it was something that had been bugging me a little bit. After the season, they said the best way is to just go ahead and clear it up since it's early in the offseason."
Despite missing some time, Hayward has looked like his old, playmaking self so far in camp. He's been active in the first two shell practices of camp and broke up two more passes during team periods Friday.
His tip of an Aaron Rodgers' pass intended for Jordy Nelson set up the second of two Morgan Burnett interceptions.
"I'm up to speed," said Hayward, who has nine interceptions in his first 35 regular-season games. "I'm a vet so I know this defense. I know how to play it, I know how to play this game. I know the ins and outs of offenses so I can read some of the plays before they happen or while they're developing. It's just me getting in shape.
"I think that's the ultimate goal is getting in top shape, getting in better shape every week and keep trusting my speed and my legs."
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