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Hayward, Broncos Meet Again

Posted Sep 30, 2005

Denver goes up against Reggie Hayward for the first time since he left in free agency.

Hayward
Reggie Hayward led the Broncos in sacks last season. PHOTO: ERIC LARS BAKKE
BRONCOS TV
Broncos TVDenver's offense flourished Monday night, and Broncos TV got the perspectives of Mike Shanahan, Jake Plummer, Kyle Johnson and Rod Smith on the offense's success and where it needs to go from this point forward.

9/30: Offense Finds Groove
9/29: Rookie Corners Get Ready
9/28: Corners on the Mend
9/28: Shanahan Press Conference
9/28: Plummer Press Conference
9/28: Broncos-Chiefs Highlights
9/27: Broncos-Chiefs Postgame

By Andrew Mason

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- No bitterness. No regret.

For Jaguars defensive end Reggie Hayward, leaving Denver and eventually heading towards Jacksonville was a parting that was somewhat sweet and barely sorrowful, and with the Broncos' defensive line flourishing in his absence and the fifth-year player settling in at his new home, all seems well on both sides.

"I think they went to every length that they could go through to keep me in there," Hayward said. "It was one of those things, a cap casualty I guess. I don't think they didn't keep me for personal reasons; I don't think they had enough money to spread around. Those sort of things happen. That's the nature of the business."

It certainly is in the age of unrestricted free agency. So too is having friends around the league, a result of the roster turnover that is an inevitable part of each season. Hayward may have left Denver in March; his ties to his former teammates, however, remain.

"I always stayed in contact with Marco Coleman and other guys," Hayward said. "When Rod (Smith) suffered that concussion (Monday night) I gave him a phone call and left him a voicemail telling him I hoped he was all right, just to check up on him.

"My teammates -- my ex-teammates -- they were great guys. (I) never had any problems with them so I personally care about their safety like with anybody on the field. I stay in touch with a handful of guys."

Coleman, in particular, helped smooth out Hayward's transition to North Florida, which is distinctly Southern in its tempo, unlike urban areas like Miami, Tampa, Orlando and Ft. Lauderdale, and provided something of a culture shock for the Illinois-born-and-raised Hayward. Coleman played for the Jaguars in 2002 and still maintains a residence in Jacksonville.

"He gave me the ins and outs and what to expect about down-South living and how things are much smoother and slower," Hayward said. "Everyone's not on a fast pace."

Then there was the weather.

"Adjusting to that was one of the things that took some time because I've been a Midwest person and a cold-climate person," Hayward said. "Coming out here and getting used to the humidity and the heat and how sticky it is out here in practice is just one of those things I've never had to face on a day-to-day basis. I'm used to it now, but it was hard in the beginning."

Hayward has also readjusted back to left defensive end after playing right end in Week 1 and through the preseason. With two sacks, two forced fumbles, 15 quarterback pressures and 10 tackles so far this season, he's fared well on both sides.

"I felt comfortable because I played most of my football on the left side in Denver," Hayward said. "So I told them let me move over there and see if I can get a little more comfortable and get in a groove and it's been working out for me."

Added Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio: "He's done well on either side. We'll move him around based on how we feel like we can best utilize our best combination of guys. He's done a good job with it."

And Hayward's former teammates know quite well what he can do.

"I've got a tremendous amount of respect for his abilities," fullback Kyle Johnson said. "I know he likes to have fun. He can get to the quarterback. Obviously we have to protect Jake (Plummer) as best we can."

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