Adam Hayward ready for Buccaneers starting opportunity

Al Messerschmidt

Bucs linebacker Adam Hayward has been a strong contributor in a limited role, but with the injury to Quincy Black Hayward is looking at a lot more playing time.

Adam Hayward is ready to take advantage of his starting opportunity, reports the Tampa Bay Times. Hayward, a sixth-year pro, has played in the background of the Bucs roster, valued for his versatility. He excels on special teams, and can play all three linebacker positions. Hayward has been comfortable making his value in that role:

Hayward is a sixth-round draft pick from the 2007 NFL Draft, and with the neck injury sustained by Quincy Black taking him out for the season and possibly beyond, Hayward will now have a much bigger opportunity than he's used to.

Head coach Greg Schiano said that Hayward would be the most prepared to step into Black's role, but that different personnel groupings would be used as different situations called for it. "He stays up to speed on all three linebacker positions," Schiano said, "and that's why I say we'll have flexibility where guys will move around. "

Hayward had 21 tackles in 2011, a career high.

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