Jason Verrett was understandably excited when he earned his first Pro Bowl nod last season.
However, that paled in comparison to the emotions he felt on Tuesday upon learning Casey Hayward earned his first trip to the annual All-Star showcase.
"Oh, I am very proud," he said, speaking a mile a minute. "Seeing from when he first came in, what he went through with his mom, it's crazy. I mean, Casey came in here to be in our nickel packages, and he went from that to covering the ones. Not only covering them, but he dominated them. I'm at a loss for words because it's dope to see someone accomplish something like this they've been grinding hard for."
Verrett's 2016 campaign was obviously a frustrating one, as he suffered an early ACL injury and played through it before learning the extent of the damage. After only four games, he was forced to shut it down and undergo surgery. The silver lining is his injury forced Hayward to go one-on-one against the opposition's top wideout.
At the time he went down, Verrett stressed the need for Hayward to rise to the occasion while saying he had all the confidence in the world he would do just that. Those words proved prophetic as number 26 emerged as the top cornerback in the NFL, leading the league in interceptions and passes defensed.
"Watching him do that all year against the (other team's top weapon) felt so good. We were both talking about me getting back to the Pro Bowl and him saying he wanted to get to (his) first one. And he did that. As you can see, he was able to showcase that. I'm so proud."
Now, Verrett can barely hold his excitement about the 2017 campaign when the Bolts roll out a pair of Pro Bowl corners on each side.
"I just texted him and said, 'Bro, we are going to be the best duo in the league next year.' 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."
Hayward himself echoed those very sentiments.
"It's going to be crazy. 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."
While Verrett is champing at the bit to get out there with Hayward next year, for now, he's satisfied to watch him showcase his skills on the big stage. He also offered some advice on how to maximize the experience.
"Just enjoy every moment. Enjoy it with your family, and soak in the time with all the different players that are there. You are getting the recognition you deserve, and this is definitely a confidence booster. When I was there last year, just seeing all those other athletes, I finally felt I was one of the tops at my position. Now that's Casey. This is the year he showed his top level, that he belongs, and I couldn't be prouder."