Let me share with you a scene from after Thursday's practice that I think many Green Bay Packers fans can relate to.
[A kid walks up to a Packer who is getting off his bike. The player is making his way to the locker room. he doesn't have his jersey on and he's wearing just a grey t-shirt and yellow shorts.]
[KID] Excuse me, are you Mr. Hayward?
[Packer player] No.
I grew up on the east side of the city and so I wasn't one of the privileged kids who brought their bikes to camp every day for the Packers to ride. I was a kid who showed up nearly every day hoping to get autographs of as many Packers as I could find. I have been the kid in this scene countless times with many Packers of old (including a young Brett Favre before he was famous telling me that he wasn't Favre and then laughing at me...true story). So let me tell you that I have a good feeling of what was going through this kid's mind when he heard the world "No."
1. Who the heck are you mister? AND
2. Where in the heck is Hayward?
If you were at practice on Thursday you probably asked the first question of a Packer at some point in the day. You wondered who that #45 was who made that play or that #7 guy who dropped that ball. It's natural at this time of year. I think many more asked the second question though when they heard that Bush was the starting corner. It probably wasn't limited to Casey Hayward either, with Davon House bound to be included in the thought as well.
During the lull we discussed the possibility that Sam Shields might lose his starting corner spot from last year. He's always been talented but raw, and always struck me as a being a bit of a long shot to becoming a star in the league. I don't think many of us thought that Bush would be the next in line for the job though (fun fact the poll with the linked article had Bush getting 33 votes or 3% when asked who the started would be; this was only four more votes than the Otis Merrill and Dion Turner combination). Rather, the tone of most of the comments concluded that Hayward or House would make the push if Shields couldn't hold down the job. Yet on Thursday Shields, House, and Hayward didn't even sniff a rep with the ones. Charles Woodson played safety in the base with Bush taking the #2 CB spot and then M.D. Jennings came on the field in the nickel role allowing Woodson to slide to slot CB.
Now we shouldn't jump to conclusions or think that Bush has won the job after one day of practice.....but are House and Hayward that far behind Bush that they couldn't get in one rep?
Earlier today I noted that Sam Shields has got to step up his game and show the team he is ready to be a starting CB in this league. House and Hayward are definitely not at the same career crossroads as Shields, but they do need to seize this opportunity. Big things are happening in the secondary right now. The release of Charlie Peprah and the move of Woodson has opened up possibilities for some of the younger players.
Jarrett Bush thrives in this sort of chaos. Can House and Hayward? Or at the very least, can they take advantage of the opening and elevate their game? If not, and they continue to have ho-hum and non-notable practices than you may have to get use to the idea of Jarrett Bush, starting cornerback for the 2012 Green Bay Packers.
Editor's note: Hayward played well on Tuesday after this post was written, but that doesn't make any of what's written above any less valid. And we're still wondering where in the world Davon House is.