LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- On more than one occasion in training camp Lovie Smith said he believed the Bears had "three starting cornerbacks" on the roster, the third being free agent pick up Kelvin Hayden who opened the regular season as No. 3 on the depth chart behind Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings.
However, Hayden was pressed into action in the second quarter of the Bears' 41-21 victory over the Indianapolis Colts after Tillman left the game with a lower right leg injury. Hayden finished tied for the team lead with seven total tackles, including a fierce third-quarter hit on Colts' receiver Donnie Avery that resulted in an incompletion, and recovered a fumble on special teams.
"I think I had a pretty decent game," Hayden said. "I have a few things to clean up like everyone does, but I think I will do that. The more and more I'm up there the better and better I'll be. I take pride in being physical, so if that hit (on Avery) gives me the reputation of being a physical guy so be it.
"I just want to be a guy who pays attention to the details and goes out there and does his job whenever his number is called."
An eight-year veteran with 47 career starts, Hayden said following the game that he'll be ready in the event Tillman is forced to sit out Thursday night's Week 2 contest at Green Bay -- although it should be mentioned that Tillman has played through a variety of injuries over the years and missed just six games over the last seven seasons.
"It is what it is, it's nothing new to me," Hayden said. "It is a short week and whenever you have a short week it is a challenge. I think we have an experienced veteran group that is ready to respond to the challenge."
Jennings knows firsthand what Hayden is capable of doing on the field. There two were teammates for several seasons together in Indianapolis where Hayden was a fixture in the starting line-up when he wasn't beset by a variety of injuries.
"It's a good situation for us," Jennings said. "We feel confident about it and feel like we didn't miss a beat. You don't want a Pro Bowl cornerback (Tillman) to go down like that and miss some plays but we have depth and veteran leadership at the cornerback position. We felt good about that when we brought Hayden in here."