Growing Pains Continue for Raiders’ First-Round Pick

D.J. Hayden sat in front of his locker, head down and covered by a white towel. The Oakland Raiders’ first-round draft pick politely declined all requests for an interview, his mind undoubtedly swimming with visions of footballs raining out of the sky.

On an afternoon in which the Raiders were terrible all the way around on defense, Hayden painfully stood out.

The rookie cornerback has had his share of growing pains this season, but nothing like what he endured in Week 9 against Philadelphia when Hayden become the personal whipping boy for Eagles quarterback Nick Foles.

Hayden was beaten for two touchdowns, one that went for 17 yards and another that turned into a 63-yard score. Both scores were by Philadelphia wide receiver Riley Cooper whose NFL career has been mostly been defined by the controversial racial comments he made that surfaced in the preseason.

The 12th overall pick, Hayden also gave up a 59-yard pass completion in the second half that set up Cooper’s third touchdown.

“He had a tough day but everybody’s gone through it,” Oakland safety Charles Woodson said. “But if you want to play a long time then you’ve got to get past it. Nobody’s going to feel sorry for him.”

Certainly not the Eagles, whose offense had been in the ruts before churning out 542 yards against the Raiders. It’s the fourth-most yards allowed in franchise history and the most given up since 2003.

Clearly it wasn’t all Hayden’s fault. Yet the life of an NFL cornerback is such that successes and failures tend to get magnified.

In this instance, Hayden’s mistakes didn’t need much enhancing.

“Obviously when you play out there on the island and you have a tough day, those things stand out a little bit more,” Oakland coach Dennis Allen said. “He’s a young player. He’s going to continu...

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