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Casey Hayward Knows "You've Got to Put the Work In"

The first day of the offseason program notably marks the first chance for free agent acquisitions to acclimate to their new team.

That transition didn't take long for cornerback Casey Hayward.

In fact, it began the moment he landed in America's Finest City last month.  San Diego felt like home from the moment he left at the airport as he was greeted with open arms by one of the team's defensive leaders when he came to sign his contract.

"Jason Verrett was the first dude I met," he recalled.  "When I got off the plane to the facility, he was here to welcome me.  We exchanged numbers and have been talking.  He's a real good dude.  I'd watched his game even before coming here, and he's a real good player.  Hopefully we can build together on the field like the friendship (off of it).  We need to build that same thing."

The immediate bond Hayward forged with Verrett in March was a precursor to Monday as the rest of the Bolts welcomed the cornerback into the fold.

"I feel the camaraderie right away, and it's exciting," he said.  "It was the first day, and as a new player I didn't know what to expect, especially having only played for one team previously.  But all the guys welcomed me in and were really cool. I met most of the guys in the secondary.  I already felt like a Charger, but it adds extra motivation when everyone welcomes you in like they did today."

One of those players was Philip Rivers.

Even though he plays on the opposite side of the ball, Rivers approached Hayward to joke about a play from last season when the Chargers played the Green Bay Packers.  Number 17 launched a quick throw that was picked off by Hayward.  However, the whistle blew a split second beforehand as an offensive player was called for a false start.

"The quarterback knows who I am!" he laughed. "He remembers I picked him off in that game, but they blew the whistle as soon as I did.  We talked about that and had a laugh about it.  I picked him off, and Philip was like, 'Yeah you did, but it didn't count!'"

Originally a second round pick (62nd overall) of the Packers in 2012, Hayward appeared in 51 games with 20 starts over four seasons in Green Bay, totaling 168 tackles, 35 passes defended, nine interceptions and one pick-six over his career.  The versatile veteran has experience playing all over the secondary, and led the Packers in interceptions in two of his four seasons.

Hayward was a coveted free agent who had his pick of the litter, yet decided to join a Chargers team that finished last in the division in 2015.  However, when evaluating his many options, Hayward didn't see a last place team at all. Combined with his experience facing the Bolts last season, he felt they were primed to take a leap forward which is why he inked his contract. 

That feeling was reinforced on Monday.

"When we played them last year, this offense put up ridiculous numbers.  Just watching them, this team had about 10 games decided by seven points or less.  So the players we have here and the attitude the team has, I feel like I can be one of the components to get this team from last to first. We know the type of work we've got to do, and it's not going to be easy. But it's not easy for any team in this league.  You've got to put the work in, and that started today."

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