Falcons Lose Starter to ‘Long-Term’ Injury


Getty Casey Hayward No. 29 of the Atlanta Falcons.

The Atlanta Falcons are set to be without starting cornerback Casey Hayward for some time.

Head coach Arthur Smith had already had a feeling that Hayward’s injury was going to be long-term.

“The one that we’d be concerned about is Casey,” Smith told reporters on Monday, October 17. “We don’t have all of the information, but that would be the one that’s looking more long term.”

And then on Tuesday, the team placed Casey on injured reserve.

The veteran exited Sunday’s 28-14 victory over the San Francisco 49ers early with a shoulder injury in the fourth quarter.

Hayward wasn’t the only defender who left the game with an injury. Cornerback A.J. Terrell limped off of the field with a thigh injury in the third quarter and did not return, while defensive tackle Ta’Quon Graham momentarily left the third quarter to deal with a knee injury.

Hayward Has Provided Mentorship to the Falcons’ Young Secondary

Hayward, 32, spent last season with the Las Vegas Raiders after signing a one-year, $2.5 million guaranteed free-agent deal, reuniting him with defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, whom he played under in LA for four seasons with the Chargers.

Following an injury-plagued 2020 season, Hayward bounced in 2021 and started all 17 games, and finished with an interception and nine passes defended, which was his most in a single season since 2017 when he logged a career-best 22 PD. His 46 tackles last season were also the most he had since 2018.

Hayward, a Georgia native, was initially drafted in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers in 2012. He spent four seasons with the cheese heads before heading to LA where he earned both his Pro Bowls in 2016 and 2017.

The 33-year-old joined a relatively young secondary room this year with the Falcons that features 25-year-old Isaiah Oliver, 2020 draft pick A.J. Terrell and second-year corners Darren Hall and Avery Williams

But Hayward is no stranger to being a mentor as he did the same in Vegas last season for rookie slot cornerback Nate Hobbs.

In 10 NFL seasons, Hayward has 24 interceptions through 152 games and 118 starts.

Per the league’s protocol, Hayward will miss at least four games and it looks like Hall will step up in his place.

Hall Stepped Up vs. San Francisco

On Sunday, we caught a glimpse of what Hall can do when he was forced into action following Terrell’s injury.

Hall played tight coverage, keeping the ball away from Niners’ wideouts Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel for a pair of pass deflections.

His performance didn’t go unnoticed by coach.

“We’re confident in our guys; guys stepped up and played really well – and Darren did,” Smith said. “Darren’s had a good camp, and his number was called (Sunday). He made a huge play on that deep ball to Aiyuk; really good patience and body control (to) get up there and make that play.”

In 2021, the Falcons selected cornerback Darren Hall in the fourth round (108 overall) during the NFL Draft.

Prior to entering the league, Hall was a standout at San Diego State where he tied the FBS lead for pass breakups that season with 16 in 2019. Hall has logged 27 tackles, a sack and three pass defelctions this far in his career.

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