Cardinals' Hayes tries to downplay back issue

Gerald Hayes may want you to believe it’s no serious matter but the Arizona Cardinals surely have some reason for concern.

The veteran linebacker, who will turn 30 in October, has sat out practices this offseason with a bulging disc in his back, an issue that has plagued him since November and caused him to miss two games, according to Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic.

Sure, Hayes has mostly been a model of durability for the Cardinals and has missed only four games over the last four seasons, but back issues don’t just disappear. Per the report, treatments, exercises and injections have helped Hayes, and coach Ken Whisenhunt said he might be on the field next week for the club’s final week of voluntary work. There’s no urgency to get a veteran like Hayes, who understands the defense, action in early June. Having him ready in early September is the goal. But knowing that a back issue has followed him this far makes it difficult to imagine it will be a part of his distant past by September.

"It's not a worry, man," Hayes told Somers. "Everybody makes a big deal and say, 'Are you worried about this, worried about that?' But we don't play tennis, so it's part of the game. You have injuries and you get over them."

The Cardinals watched players exit this offseason, including Karlos Dansby, and the fact is they’re not deep at linebacker, especially inside. Hopefully, Hayes can heal up over the coming months.

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