Entering his seventh NFL season, Casey Hayward has firmly entrenched himself as one of the league's elite cornerbacks.
Like any top corner, though, he isn't opposed to an assist or two from his Pro Bowl counterparts up front. On Sunday, Hayward discussed how the relentless pressure that Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram applied to opposing quarterbacks last season benefitted him.
"It made my life a lot easier," Hayward said. "I know the ball's got to come out a little faster when those guys come. A couple of my picks last year came off Joey."
Nobody has more interceptions over the last two NFL seasons than Hayward (11, tied with the Rams' Marcus Peters). Collectively, the Chargers' No. 3 ranked passing defense snagged 18 picks last season – good for sixth in the league.
When Los Angeles wasn't taking the ball away last season, it was finding ways to get the quarterback on the ground. Bosa and Ingram combined for 23 sacks, proving that coverage and pass rush go hand-in-hand.
NFL Network's Brian Baldinger, who visited Saturday's training camp practice, praised Hayward for his "unbelievable season" in 2017. Baldinger also noted that the push up front only enhances the play of the Hayward, Trevor Williams, Desmond King and others.
"Every secondary benefits (from) a good pass rush," Baldinger said. "So, obviously it starts with Joey and Melvin and what they can bring, and we'll see what Uchenna (Nwosu) can do and what Kyle (Emanuel) has done. They have pieces there that any time you can get that quarterback to hurry up -- to hitch -- it makes the secondary that much better."
Hayward isn't resting on his laurels. He'd like that interception total to rise, and thinks Bosa, who just turned 23, can help him. Hayward joked that he wants 10 interceptions off of tipped balls from Bosa in 2018.
"I definitely don't think he hit his potential," Hayward said of Bosa. "I told people after his first year, I feel like he's going to be the best defensive player in this league."
Take a look through the top practice photos from day two of Chargers Camp.