Hayward says he's '80 percent'

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Defensive end Reggie Hayward offered a promising report on his recovery from Achilles tendon surgery and expects to be fully recovered for the start of training camp.

"Right now, I would say I'm about 80 percent," Hayward told jaguars.com in an interview on Tuesday. "I'm close to getting on the field and doing some running. I should be ready to participate in mini-camps; able to run and do drills. Of course, we're going to make sure I'm all right."

Hayward tore his left Achilles in the third quarter of the 2006 season-opener against the Dallas Cowboys. He was coming off the best year of his career and was considered to be the Jaguars' best pass-rusher.

"I got off the ball and beat the left tackle. As I planted on that left Achilles, I turned my hips and my Achilles popped. My leg went dead. It was a sharp, hot pain that started in my heel and went up to the middle of my calf. I tried to tell myself it was an ankle sprain or I just tweaked something, but deep down inside I knew I really hurt it. I tried to put some weight on it but my foot was just wagging," Hayward said.

Renowned surgeon Dr. James Andrews performed surgery on Hayward's left Achilles, splicing together the two torn ends. Hayward then began a regimen of rest and rehabilitation which, to this point, has involved stretching but no running, other than in the pool.

During Dr. Andrews' examination, Hayward complained of pain in his right Achilles and Dr. Andrews found a mass of scar tissue to exist in Hayward's right Achilles. Hayward is also receiving treatment on his right Achilles to break up that scar tissue, and it's concern for his right Achilles that has kept Hayward from running.

"Training camp, I should be ready to go," Hayward said. "He (Dr. Andrews) told me the success rate is great. The rehab is intensive but it's do-able."

Buffalo linebacker Takeo Spikes sustained a torn Achilles in the third game of the 2005 season. Spikes returned to the lineup this year and his performance improved as the year went on.

"He's a great example. He still has his speed and range of motion," Hayward said of Spikes.

Though Hayward relies on a quick first step in rushing the passer, he's not concerned that he will have lost that step because his left foot is "my up-field foot. I push off with my right foot," he said.

In Hayward's absence this season, Bobby McCray emerged as a premier pass-rusher, leading the Jaguars with 10 sacks, double the Jaguars' next-best sacks figure; Rob Meier had five sacks.

"I was one of Bobby's biggest fans. When I was in Denver, Trevor Pryce went down. I took full advantage of it and I'm glad Bobby took full advantage," Hayward said.

The Jaguars, of course, look forward to having McCray and Hayward on the field together.

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