The Oakland Raiders still aren’t sure when second-year cornerback D.J. Hayden will return from his nagging ankle injury, and everyone’s concerned about his ability to stay healthy and develop into the shutdown corner his first-round draft status suggested. The tools are there for Hayden, but he struggled last season and has had injury issues throughout his early career.
Seventh-round rookie T.J. Carrie has benefited from Hayden’s injury by getting extra snaps in training camp, and Jerry McDonald of the Oakland Tribune writes. In fact, he’s been turning heads with those added reps, and Raiders head coach Dennis Allen stated that Carrie reminds him of Denver Broncos star slot corner Chris Harris Jr. Undrafted out of Kansas, Harris quickly became an underrated force as a nickel corner for the Broncos back when Allen was their defensive coordinator, and he is one of the best CBs in the league today. So when Allen says Carrie reminds him of Harris, that’s very lofty praise indeed.
It’s important to temper expectations since it’s just training camp, but it’s still great to hear that Carrie is making the most out of his additional reps. The 24-year-old Ohio product could become the team’s dime corner and make an impact on special teams, and that’s not a bad spot to be in as a rookie. It will be interesting to see if Carrie can push for playing time this season, and he’s on the right track to do so. There’s no questioning his physical tools, because he has plenty of upside. But in training camp, he’s shown that he’s further ahead mentally than most would expect from a small-school, late-round rookie corner.