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10 Things to Watch: How Good Can Verrett and Hayward Be in 2017?
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The Los Angeles Chargers went seven years without a Pro Bowl cornerback.
They’ve now had one make it in consecutive seasons.
Jason Verrett’s Pro Bowl campaign came following his second season in 2015. He was named the Chargers' Defensive Player of the Year after leading the team with three interceptions and 11 passes defensed. Verrett logged his first career pick-six in dramatic fashion on Monday Night Football against the Chicago Bears, intercepting Jay Cutler and returning it 68 yards up the left sideline. Meanwhile, his diving pick of Alex Smith ended the quarterback’s streak of 312 passes without an interception, the second longest in NFL history.
After going toe-to-toe with the likes of Antonio Brown, A.J. Green, Golden Tate, Amari Cooper, Alshon Jeffery and more, Verrett entered 2016 entrenched as one of the game’s top cornerbacks. Unfortunately, a knee injury ended his campaign a month into the season.
In his absence, Casey Hayward emerged as a lockdown corner in his first season after signing as a free agent from the Green Bay Packers. He led the league with seven interceptions and ranked third with 20 passes defensed, earning All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors in the process. His teammates named him the Chargers MVP and their Defensive Player of the Year.
Thus, you can see why the Bolts are eager for what the pair can do together this season. However, no one has higher aspirations than the Pro Bowl corners have in themselves.
So, just how good can Hayward and Verrett be in 2017?
“We are going to be the best duo in the league,” Verret said a few months ago. “We are going to feed off each other, what I do well and what he does well. We’re going to go after it all next season. I’m hyped to see what both of us are going to be able to do. Not just me, but also the coaches. I already know the coaches are thinking next year with both of us out there, it allows us to do so much from the defensive side.”
“It’s going to be crazy,” echoed Hayward. “I’m not sure what offenses are going to do. People are going to have to make plays, but we are going to be up for that challenge. Not too many teams can say they have two Pro Bowl corners with one on each side. That’s going to be crazy.”