Raiders rookie D.J. Hayden gets the green light for full contact
Thus, for the first time this offseason Hayden ditched the red no-contact jersey in favor of a black one, to indicate that he’s back to full health and ready for some football action.
Hayden had been limited in practice since May, when he underwent a surgery to remove scar tissue from his chest. The abdominal scarring originally resulted from last year’s emergency surgery to repair a torn inferior vena cava, the large vein that carries blood from the lower half of the body to the heart, after a freak-accident last November. Hayden suffered the near-fatal heart injury during a practice collision with a teammate in college at Houston last year, and was immediately rushed to a hospital for surgery.
Its’ been almost a year since Hayden had taken part in a full-practice. Even though the Hayden declared himself ready-to-go weeks ago, the Raiders were fearful of rushing him back into action too soon. So, Hayden spent the entire training camp practicing in a red jersey before team doctors and trainers cleared him for contact on Friday.
Being a rookie cornerback Hayden has a lot of catching-up to do, especially after missing some practice time with a hamstring injury and remaining sidelined for the team’s first two preseason games. So, it was anyone’s guess how Hayden would perform in his first practice without limitations, since the near-fatal heart injury. However, one things that Raiders coach Dennis Allen could confirm was that Hayden was definitely “anxious and excited” to get back to a full workload.
"Obviously, nobody knows how he's going to respond when that happens," Allen said Saturday. "He's been very good as far as practice has been concerned .We're having to hold him back. He wants to do more and do more. From that standpoint I think he has the right mindset going into this thing. “
"He's gone through a lot," Allen added. "It will be good to get him in a game situation and let him get out there… and play this week and get his first game action under his belt."
So, if all goes well in practice, Hayden will make his preseason debut against the Chicago Bears at the Coliseum next Friday; and the Raiders could have a chance to assess him as well as determine to what extent he’ll be able to contribute as a rookie.
The news couldn’t come at a better time for the Raiders, who will likely be without cornerback Tracy Porter (groin) next week. Hayden would have the opportunity to immediately become the Raiders’ top cornerback to provide spark in their secondary.