BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- While the Bears were busy negotiating high-profile and expensive deals in the offseason, the team also made a concerted effort to address their depth at cornerback, drafting Kyle Fuller at No. 14 overall and quietly re-signing veteran Kelvin Hayden to a one-year contract on February 28.
Fuller stole the show on Day 1 of camp with a pair of interceptions, but Hayden flashed with a pick of his own on Jay Cutler’s very first pass attempt on Saturday morning.
With Tim Jennings sidelined due to a sore quad, Hayden spent the first half of practice taking the starters reps at cornerback in the base defense, then sliding inside to cover the slot when the team shifted to nickel.
“It felt good,” Hayden said. “Anytime you can have a turnover in practice it feels good. You just want to continue to build off that. Tomorrow is another day so you just want to continue to keep working.”
When healthy, Hayden has proven to be an effective and versatile member of the secondary, appearing in 101 regular season and 10 postseason games in nine seasons with 54 total starts and 15 career interceptions.
But Hayden’s last two years in Chicago have been tricky. He played in all 16 games (two starts) for the Bears in 2012, but never truly seemed to find his groove as he shuffled back-and-forth from cornerback to nickel back. Then last year Hayden suffered a serious hamstring injury before the team even broke camp that wiped out his entire 2013 season.
The hope this summer is that Hayden’s 30-year old body can hold up throughout camp, because without question, the Bears would benefit from having someone with his experience in a reserve role on the 53-man roster.
“We’re excited to have Kelvin back,” Bears head coach Marc Trestman said. “We missed him last year. He’s back, and he’s work very, very hard to put himself in this position to compete for a job on this team. It was good to see him have success today.”