Colts cornerback wants more than one signature moment Print
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Monday, 13 August 2007 10:42
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 TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) -Kelvin Hayden could spend his entire NFL career reliving that indelible Super Bowl memory, a 56-yard interception return for a touchdown.
Hayden, though, has bigger plans with the Indianapolis Colts. The converted wide receiver enters this season brimming with confidence, thanks partly to his signature Super Bowl play and partly to his new status as one of the two new starting cornerbacks on the defending champs.
``One guy back in Indy told me he had a daughter on the way and he was going to name her Hayden because it was Indy's first title,'' the third-year cornerback said. ``That part feels good. I just don't want everything to be based on that one play. I want to go out and make plays like that all the time.''
Hayden seems to have the tools to make it work.
At 6 feet and 195 pounds, he's bigger than Jason David, last year's starter, and had enough speed and good enough hands to spend three college seasons playing receiver at Illinois.
Now, with three years of cornerback experience and a familiarity with Marlin Jackson, Nick Harper's replacement, Hayden anticipates becoming more than a trivia answer.
He's gotten accustomed to doing all those things receivers hate - jamming them on the line, putting hands on them down the field and beating them to jump balls - and it could give Indy a new look on defense.
``Marlin and Kelvin are a little more physical,'' coach Tony Dungy said after the Colts' preseason opener at Dallas. ``There's no question we played to Jason and Nick's strengths and there's no question we'll do the same thing with Marlin and Kelvin.''
Strange as that might have seemed in 2005.
Despite the limited college experience at cornerback, team president Bill Polian took Hayden in the second round of the draft, envisioning him as more than just a long-term project.
With Harper aging into his 30s and David expected to be a hot commodity when he hit the open market, Polian considered Hayden a potential replacement.
It happened a year early. When Harper signed with Tennessee in March, the Colts handed Jackson, a former first-round pick, the starting job. A month later, New Orleans signed David to an offer sheet worth about $16 million. Polian, thinking it was too costly, gambled that David's replacement was ready to play, declining to match the offer and giving Hayden a chance to inherit the starting job.
Hayden believes it's time.
``When I first got here, I was out of whack playing corner,'' he said. ``Now I feel so confident and comfortable there, I feel like this is my senior year. I'm ready to go.''
The big question for Indy is whether their new cornerback tandem can defend the NFL's top receivers.
Many around the league considered Jackson a better safety than cornerback, and until the playoffs, Hayden was virtually unknown. Yet both played a major part in the Colts' title run.
Jackson's interception of Tom Brady sealed the AFC Championship game victory, and it was Hayden's athletic pick-and-sprint that assured the Colts' of victory in rainy Miami.
With next Monday's Super Bowl rematch looming, albeit in a preseason game, Hayden will likely relive his memorable moment.
While few will confuse Hayden's highlight-reel play with Peyton Manning's MVP performance or the tag-team running and catching of Joseph Addai and Dominic Rhodes, it certainly had an impact on Hayden.
``It showed that I could make plays on the big stage and it gives you a little more bounce in your step because you know you can make those plays,'' Hayden said.
He just hopes they'll continue to come.
``Last year, whenever someone went down, the coaches called on me to make plays,'' he said. ``It's like they say, once the ball is in the air, it's not the receivers' ball, it's anybody's ball. ... I just want make those kinds of plays more consistently if I can.''
 

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