Casey Hayward hasn’t played a preseason snap thus far, but will be allowed to take a few snaps as the Chargers take on the Seahawks.
The Chargers have, thus far, mostly stuck to their original plan: Rest the veteran starters. Outside of Denzel Perryman (who will be 27 this year), the majority of those who appeared in the team’s last two preseason games are from the team’s last three draft classes or undrafted free agent hauls. On Saturday, however, it appears the Chargers are willing to let veteran and former All-Pro corner Casey Hayward make an on-field appearance. Is it a good idea?
Let’s start with the obvious: Hayward being on the field at all increases his chance of injury. Granted, he is playing outside corner, and likely won’t have to engage with run plays or get mixed up in the defensive line, but trying to run with any receiver still puts him at risk of hurting himself.
Considering the team’s recent bout of injuries, which includes the Chargers’ best player in the secondary, should Hayward even see the field?
On the other hand, it’s Hayward, who has played 48 out of 48 games with the Chargers and has not missed a game since 2013 while with the Green Bay Packers. If he wants to play, shouldn’t the coaching staff trust him? Clearly, they do:
Anthony Lynn said Philip Rivers did not ask for playing time in the third preseason game against the Seahawks, so the plan remains to keep the Chargers’ starting QB out of the game. However, Lynn said CB Casey Hayward asked to play on Saturday, so he’ll get a couple snaps.
— Eric Williams (@eric_d_williams) August 22, 2019
The other corners for the Chargers have not done anything particularly special thus far, and Trevor Williams has yet to see the preseason at all and looks to be in danger of missing the season opener. Hayward’s insertion into the lineup, though brief, may provide a spark for all the young corners trying to improve their chances of making the roster. Now there’s a legitimate All-Pro alongside them, and perhaps they want to perform up to his level.
Still, this feels like a massive and unnecessary risk. Williams’ injury should force the team to shut their starting corner down, rather than put him out there for even a few plays. The Chargers aren’t at all equipped to handle T.Y. Hilton or DeAndre Hopkins through the first quarter of the season if Hayward goes down. Michael Davis and Brandon Facyson are not true No. 1 corners, but they would have to be in the event Hayward sustains an injury. Is this an overreaction, or should Hayward be allowed to play? After all, he won’t be out there for very long and he knows how to keep himself healthy. Comment below and make a case for either side.