Cornerback Depth Means Raiders Don’t Have to Rush D.J. Hayden

Coming into 2014, the Oakland Raiders penciled second-year cornerback D.J. Hayden in as a starter opposite Tarell Brown. Hayden was looking to put an injury-plagued rookie season behind him and become the player general manager Reggie McKenzie thought he was getting with the 12th overall selection of the 2013 NFL draft.

When the Raiders placed Hayden on the reserve PUP list, they hoped he could rehab a broken foot and be healthy enough to play Week 1. Despite Hayden moving around well Monday, the Raiders opted to put him on the reserve PUP list to start the regular season. Hayden will miss at least the first six weeks of the season.

Just a few weeks ago, losing Hayden for five games would have been a devastating blow to a thin secondary, but the Raiders are suddenly flush with cornerback depth. The team now has the luxury of ensuring Hayden is both 100 percent healthy and in football shape before activating him.


No One to Blame

It’s disappointing that Hayden has missed so much time, but it’s not fair to say it was a bad draft pick by McKenzie at this point. Aside from surgery prior to training camp last year to remove scar tissue, the Raiders couldn’t have predicted the injuries that have forced Hayden to miss games.

Many people have suggested that Hayden was an injury risk due to the freak injury he suffered in college and that the Raiders should have drafted defensive tackle Star Lotulelei instead. This ignores the fact that Lotulelei had a heart condition that prevented him from working out at the combine.

Although Lotulelei’s condition cleared up, that didn’t remove all the injury questions. As featured columnist Dave Siebert M.D. pointed out, Lotulelei’s heart was ejecting below-normal levels of blood when he was tested, and there’s no way to know when or if that might happen again.

… there is no way to know if...

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