It was apparent that Cardinals inside linebacker Gerald Hayes was not himself late last year. Gone was the explosiveness and downhill quickness that have always masked the veteran’s mediocre instincts. The determination to finish plays and fire into piles wasn’t there either.
Now we know why. Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic reports that Hayes underwent back surgery over the summer. He is not expected to be ready for training camp. Hayes’s back problems were no secret; the story here is that the severity of those problems is greater than some observers realized.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt said Hayes underwent "a procedure" on his back several weeks ago and will be evaluated next week when players take physicals before reporting to camp in Flagstaff on July 30.
"We’ll determine then what his rehab protocol is," Whisenhunt said.
Hayes’ ongoing problems are troubling to the Cardinals, who are thin at the two inside linebacker positions.
Karlos Dansby departed via free agency this off-season. Paris Lenon is the starter now at Dansby’s spot, although he will be challenged by Daryl Washington, the team’s second-round pick. Reggie Walker and Monty Beisel are the top players behind Hayes.
Washington has upside, but expect the versatile, experienced Beisel to start if Hayes is unavailable. (Beisel, in fact, should be starting ahead of the finesse-based Lenon, regardless of Hayes’s status.) Regardless of the combination of players in the lineup, the Cardinals will be alarming weak at inside linebacker in 2010.
-- Andy Benoit
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