A calf injury that has bothered Chargers cornerback Casey Hayward for a month flared up Thursday, forcing one of the NFL's top defenders to miss practice and throwing his status for Saturday night's game at Kansas City into question.
"He had more soreness in his calf, and it kind of worked its way down to his Achilles, so we held him out," coach Anthony Lynn said. "There's always a concern, but we're hopeful he can play."
The AFC defensive player of the month for November, Hayward leads the Chargers with 21 pass breakups and is tied for the team lead with four interceptions.
Hayward said he expects to play in Arrowhead Stadium, where the Chargers (7-6) and Chiefs (7-6) will battle for first place in the AFC West. But his injury could make an already tough assignment — containing speedy Kansas City receiver Tyreek Hill — even more difficult.
The 5-foot-10, 185-pound Hill has caught 64 passes for 986 yards and six touchdowns, an average of 15.4 yards per catch.
"He's so fast, so explosive, and they find different ways to get him the ball," Hayward said. "You have to be locked in with those smaller, quicker guys because they can take a five-yard slant and turn it into 80 yards. You don't want him to run by you. You'd rather keep him in front of you."
If Hayward can't play, Michael Davis would make his first NFL start opposite cornerback Trevor Williams.
"He hasn't played a lot of defense, but he's doing a much better job on special teams," Lynn said of Davis. "A lot of times that's an indication of a guy developing. If he can make plays on special teams, he can make plays on defense."