Kelvin Hayden’s new teammates remind him that they might be wearing his Super Bowl ring if he hadn’t intercepted a pass by Rex Grossman and returned it 56 yards for a back-breaking touchdown in Super Bowl XLI.
Hayden takes the kidding in stride, while also understanding the performance of the cornerback that lines up opposite Charles Tillman could determine whether he and the Bears find themselves in position to earn *a ring at season’s end.
“It could definitely be big,” Hayden said when asked about solidifying the left cornerback position. “This defense has been putting up numbers and setting a standard year in and year out. Us as corners, we don’t want to be the reason why the team isn’t successful. We’re going to do everything possible to make sure that’s not the case.”
Much of the offseason enthusiasm surrounding the Bears has focused on offensive additions such as Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Michael Bush, even though cornerback was also a glaring need *addressed quietly with the addition of Hayden, the former *Hubbard High, Joliet Junior College and Illinois standout.
While few doubt Hayden’s ability, his durability remains a nagging question after he missed much of the last three seasons with assorted injuries, including an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion in his neck. That’s the same surgery that forced former Colts teammate Peyton Manning to miss all of last season and made some wonder if the MVP quarterback would play again.
“That’s critical,” Hayden said of proving he can stay healthy. “That’s the knock on me. The knock isn’t ‘He can’t play’, it’s ‘Will he be healthy for 16 weeks?’ ’’
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