Addition of CB Casey Hayward already paying dividends for Raiders

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The latest big free-agent acquisition by the Raiders is the first to show his worth with the team. Former Chargers’ cornerback Casey Hayward was signed by the team earlier this month, nearly two months after the start of free agency in March. But he’s ahead of the curve from his new teammates.

Why? Well, because he and Raiders new DC Gus Bradley have been together the past four years in LA. So, while the rest of the Raiders defenders are just now learning their new defensive playbook, Hayward knows it back to front.

The 10th year corner’s familiarity with the playbook and veteran presence is already proving quite valuable to his defensive teammates, especially those who share a secondary with him.

Third-year safety Johnathan Abram said of all the new faces in the secondary this year, he is most impressed with Hayward.

“Getting a chance to know him, be around him, he’s a guy who’s been in the system, going on six years. Just seeing the amount of things he saw. The starts that he got in this system. He pretty much knows it all,” Abram said of Hayward following Wednesday’s practice. “He goes out there, he talks every single play, in and out of the play. It’s just amazing to see. It’s very helpful for guys like me and other guys trying to learn this system. He’s been a tremendous help and I’m very glad he’s going to be a part of this team.”

Bringing in players who are familiar with a new coach’s scheme and vision is crucial. Paul Guenther did it several times when he first started coaching the Raiders defense, signing the likes of Reggie Nelson and Vontaze Burfict. Even DL coach Rod Marinelli brought with him several former Dallas defenders.

These players make the coach’s job easier. He doesn’t have to micromanage because he has a player in the group to fill in the gaps and show his teammates firsthand what their coach expects of them.

It also helps that Hayward is a good player. He isn’t a Jason Witten signing. He isn’t here to be a coach on the field. He’s here to compete for a starting job. And as it stands now he has a very good chance of winning that job opposite Trayvon Mullen.

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