- Jeff Dickerson, ESPN Staff Writer
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LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Although the Chicago Bears look to be set at cornerback with reigning NFC Defensive Players of the Month Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings, there is still a possibility that veteran defensive back Kelvin Hayden can be a significant contributor on defense over the final nine regular season games.
Hayden gives the Bears flexibility, because not only is the University of Illinois product a seasoned corner with 47 career starts, he is also a capable nickel back.
Hayden has already received some playing time this year as the club's fifth defensive back and always spends a good portion of his practice time every week working at nickel.
"I think it's more challenging then cornerback because everything happens a little faster," Hayden said. "You're also involved in the run, so you have to have your run reads, your pass reads in a matter of seconds. I think that's the most challenging part of it.
"I'm a true believer that defensive backs like to get in a groove and sometimes at nickel you're in one play and then you're out maybe three or four plays. Maybe sometimes it's hard to get in a groove but you need to understand that you have to be ready when your number is called."
Hayden has handled his reserve role this year like a true professional, but it might be a mistake to assume the veteran will remain on the sidelines for the entire season. Generally speaking, it's tough to keep a talented player off the field, and there is little debate at Halas Hall that Hayden's skills can help the team.
"It's different, but you have to handle it the best way you can," Hayden said. "I haven't been discouraged at all, I just want to be a guy who goes to work and does his job day in and day out."