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Casey Hayward Reflects on Pro Bowl Caliber Season

DeAndre Hopkins: four catches, 54 yards. 

Mike Evans: two catches for 16 yards.

Casey Hayward's past two weeks showcase how he has evolved into a shutdown corner. 

Since joining the Bolts this past spring, Hayward joined a CB room with veteran Bolts Jason Verrett and Brandon Flowers.  But with number 22 on injured reserve and Flowers sidelined, Hayward has had to step up against some of the league's top receivers.

"I'm preparing for this moment and I've always been preparing for this moment," he said.  "I've done this in college when I had to match the ones.  It's pretty similar."

Number 26 currently leads the league in interceptions (seven) and pass breakups (24).  He attributes his success to "being in the right place and getting the right calls."  He isn't surprised at the fact that teams keep testing him.  In fact, he anticipates making a play on the ball every time it's snapped.

"I think the ball can come to me every play.  When the team has a number one receiver, they have to throw the ball to them because they're the best player.  When you match it, you're going to get your chance to get your hands on the ball. That's what I've been doing this year and just taking advantage of that."

Hayward will be tested this week going up against wide receivers such as Kelvin Benjamin and Ted Ginn.  But tight end Greg Olsen, who played against Hayward when the cornerback was with the Green Bay Packers, is well aware of the ball-hawking ability he brings to the Bolts' secondary.

"He's obviously had a great year with seven interceptions on the season," Olsen said.  "I know as a defense they lead the league in interceptions, which is big.  They've been getting turnovers, and for any defense, if you can turn the ball over, it impacts the game significantly. Hayward is a talented guy.  You can put him in different spots to match up with other teams' top players and he holds his own."

As of late, Hayward has been leading a young cornerbacks group comprised of Craig Mager, Trovon Reed and Trevor Williams.  While he's been proud of his own success this season, he's also been honored with the opportunity to be an example to some of the younger cornerbacks on the roster.

"I try to lead by example," Hayward added.  "On the practice field, I try to have good practice habits.  (Defensive Backs) Coach (Ron) Milus does a great job with me every day.  He doesn't pick on me, but he'll say, 'Play with good technique! Get down, get down!'  When he's getting on you, it's all through love, so he wants you to do it right (because) it carries over to the game.  I try to take everything Coach Milus says on the practice field and incorporate it in the game."

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