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Hayes signs; Cooper to IR
SAN DIEGO – The Chargers signed veteran linebacker Gerald Hayes to a one-year contract Tuesday and will place linebacker Stephen Cooper (biceps) on Reserve-Injured.
Cooper played in five games on special teams and defense despite the tear.
“I don’t think Stephen’s arm is going to get any better (without surgery),” Head Coach Norv Turner said. “It did limit him in some of the things he’s trying to do.”
Hayes made 428 tackles in eight seasons at middle linebacker with Arizona, which drafted him out of Pittsburgh in 2003. The Cardinals released him July 28. He was in New Jersey visiting family when the Chargers called, but has been working out in Arizona and waiting for an attractive opportunity.
Hayes has limited experience in the 3-4 scheme. Turner said the timing of the bye week was one factor involved in the roster move, given the two weeks available to bring Hayes up to speed.
DOUBLE UP: San Diego played several snaps with Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert in the game at the same time Sunday.
It wasn’t the first time the Chargers utilized the personnel, but Turner estimated San Diego used both running backs on about eight snaps, most since Mathews was drafted before last season.
San Diego prefers to use Mathews and Tolbert in three receiver sets, Turner said, because it gives Jacob Hester and Randy McMichael an opportunity to rest a few snaps. Both of them play special teams as well as a variety of roles on offense. It also gives the Chargers another schematic option as they’ve played with just two tight ends the last three games.
“The reason we can do it, obviously, is Tolbert’s played fullback,” Turner said. “The two of them in the game together, it gives a different look.”
SWITCHING UP: The collective bargaining agreement reached in July stipulates players must get four days off during their bye week, which limits San Diego to practicing Tuesday, Wednesday and then reconvening Monday.
The Chargers used the first of two bye week practices Tuesday to give a heavier workload and more focused coaching to some young players getting their first chances at NFL game experience and those expected to play at some point in the near future.
“It will serve two things: it will help us get some of the guys that have played an awful lot of snaps already, healthy and fresh,” Turner said. “We spent a lot of time with our young guys today.”
Jacques Cesaire (knee) practiced for the first time since leaving a Week 3 game against Kansas City. Turner said he’s encouraged by the defensive end’s progress but did not put a time table on Cesaire’s return to game action.