GREEN BAY, Wis. -- As impactful as cornerback Casey Hayward was last season, it’s easy to forget he was only a rookie.
Therefore, the Green Bay Packers still consider him a developing player who needs all the practice time he can get. That’s why his return to practice on Monday, after missing the first three-plus weeks of training camp because of a hamstring injury, should be viewed as a better-late-than-never scenario.
It will give Hayward six practices plus two preseason games (if he plays on Friday against the Seattle Seahawks) to try to get back to his 2012 form, when he led all NFL rookies with six interceptions and finished third in the voting for defensive rookie of the year.
In limited action on Monday, Hayward went through the individual drills and took some team snaps, although none of it was with the defensive starters.
“It’s definitely important,” Hayward said of getting some practice time in before the regular season. “I’m glad I could get back out there this week. It’s been a whole month.”
Hayward pulled a hamstring while working out in Atlanta shortly before he returned for training camp. Had it not been for the injury, Hayward might have been in a position to expand his role from last season, when he played primarily as the third (slot) cornerback in the nickel package. Hayward likely would have received snaps at one of the outside cornerback positions, especially considering starter Tramon Williams has missed most of camp because of a knee injury.
Instead, it might be unrealistic to expect Hayward’s role to expand, at least not early in the season. On Monday, rookie Micah Hyde continued to work at Williams’ spot in the base. Sam Shields appears to be entrenched at the other starting cornerback spot. Hayward teamed with Davon House as the cornerbacks with the second-string defense, while House joined Hyde and Shields with the No. 1 nickel unit.
With Hyde’s impressive play -- he had another interception on Monday on a pass that went off the hands of receiver Justin Wilson -- the Packers have a crowded secondary.
In other developments from Monday’s practice:
Mason Crosby was the outright winner in a kicking period for the first time all camp. He went 9-for-10, while challenger Giorgio Tavecchio went 8-for-10. Both missed wide right from 50 yards, but Tavecchio also missed wide right from 41 yards. Tavecchio still holds the practice/scrimmage edge by hitting 45-of-51 field goals to Crosby’s 41-of-51, but Crosby made all three of his kicks in preseason game action while Tavecchio is 1-for-2. The Packers plan to continue the kicking competition for at least another week.
Defensive tackle Johnny Jolly, who on Saturday against the Rams tipped a pass that resulted in an interception and then intercepted a pass that was tipped by a teammate, got his hands on two more balls in practice. He batted down two passes at the line of scrimmage.
Hyde, who had a 13-yard punt return against the Rams, got increased work as a returner.
Medical report: First-round draft pick Datone Jones returned to practice after missing all of last week because of the left ankle sprain he sustained on his first (and only) snap in the preseason opener against Arizona.
The defensive end has a history of foot problems. He missed all of the 2010 season at UCLA because of broken right foot, but he knew right away that his most recent injury wasn’t anywhere near as serious.
“The biggest thing is just getting healthy, making sure I’m OK to play,” Jones said. “We still have a long season.”
Tight end Andrew Quarless returned from the quadriceps injury that had kept him out since Aug. 2.
Others who did not practice were WR Charles Johnson (knee), WR Randall Cobb (biceps), S Sean Richardson (neck), CB Tramon Williams (knee), OL J.C. Tretter (ankle), T Bryan Bulaga (knee), T Derek Sherrod (leg), WR Jordy Nelson (knee) and DE Jerel Worthy (knee).