Colts Cornerback Kelvin Hayden Enjoying Low-Key, Focused 2010 Training Camp
ANDERSON, Ind. – Things have been quiet around Kelvin Hayden in the first few days of August, a bit unusually so.
A press request here. An interview there.
Hayden, a sixth-year cornerback, has done a few such obligations, but for the most part during Colts 2010 Training Camp, the four-year starter and media-friendly veteran leader has maintained a noticeably low-profile.
And that's OK with him. Very, very OK.
"I think I'm better off that way," Hayden said during Colts 2010 Training Camp, which continued on Thursday with a special teams practice at Anderson University.
"When a guy's under the radar, he sneaks up on a lot of people and surprises a lot of people. The thing is, you might surprise other people, but you're not surprising yourself.
"I'm fine with that – blank everything out, do your job and do it well."
Thus far in camp, Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell said Hayden has done just that.
"He's been doing well," Caldwell said. "He feels good. He's moving extremely well."
And that, Hayden said, is really his goal this summer.
Hayden, a second-round selection in the 2005 NFL Draft by the Colts, has been a veteran leader and core player with the Colts the past few seasons. He is a physical cornerback with coverage skills, an ability to break on the ball and is solid in run sup, too.
Hayden, after playing mostly special teams in his first two seasons, first came to the attention of many around the NFL when he returned an interception for a game-clinching touchdown in Super Bowl XLI. He moved into the starting lineup the following season, and has remained there since.
He started 16 games in 2007, emerging as one of the top young players on the Colts' defense, and Hayden said he has played well since then.
He said what he hasn't done is do it enough.
He said the reason is simple – that while he played 16 regular-season games in 2007, he has been hampered by a variety of injuries since. He said in the off-season his goal was to change that, to emphasize his "availability" this season. And he said this week the objective remains the same.
"Everything is waiting on me if I can just stay healthy," Hayden said this week. "My goal is to just stay healthy."
Hayden, one of the Colts' top special teams players in 2005 and 2006, played nine games last regular season, finishing with 59 tackles, an interception and five passes defensed. After missing six games in 2008, he missed seven games this past season, but started throughout the post-season.
"I'm a true believer that those years are behind me," Hayden said. "You can't do anything about that. They're behind you and it is what it is. You can only control what the future holds. You just have to stay healthy and play the whole 16 and see what happens. No goals are set. My goal is just to be consistent and play hard.
"I'm working on everything. I want to improve in all spots. I want to improve in tackling. I want to improve in coverage. I want to improve in formation recognition. I want to improve reading the quarterback in zone coverages.
"I just want to improve in general and just be what I know I can be."
Hayden said it's his belief that with that improvement, he can develop into a better player than he has been in his first three years as a starter. While he is entering his sixth NFL season, he has started just 35 regular-season games, and the way Hayden sees it, he still has much to learn.
"I feel that way still," Hayden said. "My first two years, I was just getting my feet up under me and had converted from receiver (where he played until his senior season at the University of Illinois) to cornerback. I played the whole 16 my third year, but my fourth year I went down with a knee injury and my fifth year, I went down with numerous injuries.
"I still think there's a growing curve for me. There's a lot that's still left out there for me to conquer. I just want to be ready when it happens. I don't want to be on the sideline saying, 'Woulda, coulda, shoulda' this year. My thing is just to be on top of being healthy and do the things I can do to stay healthy, just play the whole 16 and see what happens while I'm out there. I just want to be consistent – consistent in tackling and consistent in covering and just be consistent in making plays when my number's called."
Hayden said this season will be at least partly about learning in another way, too – his learning of Colts defensive coordinator Larry Coyer's scheme. With Coyer entering his second season with the Colts, Hayden said there are still elements of the defense he hasn't yet mastered, and with Coyer still installing new wrinkles, Hayden said improvement can be made there, too.
"With it being a new defense, things are going to be thrown at you that you haven't seen," Hayden said. "It's not new anymore, but it's always a thing where you expect the unexpected and once you see it, never forget it.
"My thing is to put myself in the right position and let the defense dictate what happens and when the opportunity comes, be ready to make the best of it."