If the L.A. Chargers have to play against the Kansas City Chiefs without Casey Hayward, it could change the outcome of the entire game.
The Los Angeles Chargers filed their final injury report before facing the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on Saturday night and ultimately they must feel good about things. With only one player listed on the injury report, who even then is only questionable, the Chargers are surprisingly healthy and ready to play for this time of year.
Unfortunately the lone player who is hurting is their best pass defender: Casey Hayward.
Hayward is not only the team’s top cornerback, but he’s performing as well as ever these days. On the year, he has 19 passes defended and 4 interceptions, and he was even recently named the AFC’s Defensive Player of the Month in November.
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Over at Pro Football Focus, there’s not a single doubt who the best pass defender is in the entire NFL. They have Hayward ranked No. 1 overall in the league with a 97.0 rating, which places him behind Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner and Los Angeles Rams lineman Aaron Donald among the highest-graded defenders in the entire NFL.
If Hayward is unable to go after all due to his calf injury, it could spell serious trouble for a secondary that has to account for two targets in the top 10 in the NFL in yardage. Both Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce are on the cusp of crossing the 1,000 yard mark for the year, and Hill especially will enjoy a field day burning the Chargers deep if Hayward is unable to go.
Hayward made his first Pro Bowl last season as he led the NFL in interceptions with 7 overall.