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Vikings leery of Packers rookie Casey Hayward

Rookie cornerback making a big impact for Green Bay's defense.

Thomas J. Russo-US PRESSWIRE

The Minnesota Vikings have another critical NFC North matchup on Sunday when they face the Green Bay Packers. After losing to the Chicago Bears on Sunday, the Vikings remain on the road for another tough game as they try to keep pace in the NFC Wild Card race.

The Vikings' passing game struggled against the Bears while playing without Percy Harvin in the slot to give Christian Ponder a playmaker to loosen up the defense. With or without Harvin this week, Ponder and the Vikings will try to attack the Packers while avoiding Green Bay's Casey Hayward.

The Packers rookie cornerback out of Vanderbilt quickly developed a reputation as a shutdown corner and the Vikings should avoid testing the young corner on Sunday. Hayward has five interceptions and hasn't allowed a touchdown all season for Green Bay. Also, according to Sam Monson, Hayward's other statistics are even more amazing.

Hayward has allowed just 44.8% of passes thrown at him to be caught by receivers. Quarterbacks throwing at the rookie have a rating of just 28.0 -- significantly better than any other corner in the NFL -- and Hayward does it all without needing to resort to penalties to prevent catches because he has yet to be flagged.

No touchdowns? No flags? Those bottom-line stats alone should have Ponder looking elsewhere to complete passes in Green Bay on Sunday.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.