Oakland Raiders second-year cornerback D.J. Hayden appeared in just eight games last season due to injury, and his rookie year was essentially a lost cause because of it. But the former first-round pick out of Houston has plenty of talent, thus making him an attractive candidate for a sophomore breakout season. Hayden seemed to be healthy after shedding his walking boot, but it now looks like it’s possible for him to miss the start of training camp, contrary to what was once thought.
Per sources close to John Middlekauff, Hayden isn’t fully healthy yet, as he suffered an ankle injury during OTAs. Middlekauf reports that Hayden might have to start training camp on the active/PUP list, and, if that ends up being the case, we can only hope that he returns quickly enough to get some good offseason work in before the season begins.
Hayden struggled last season when he did see the field, and the apparently slow recovery from the ankle injury isn’t a good sign. A late start hurts his mental progression, which is the most important thing for a second-year corner. He’s gotten stronger this offseason, but he has to get healthy. And unfortunately, Middlekauff adds that if the Raiders don’t place Hayden on the PUP, then he won’t participate fully in training camp. That’s a huge blow to his progression, because it essentially puts him in the same spot as last year. It’s always important not to exaggerate things, but this really isn’t a good sign. At least the Raiders have Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers, so another slow season from Hayden won’t be as detrimental to the defense (plus, rookie Keith McGill is one to watch).