NAPA, Calif. -- The Oakland Raiders began arriving at the Napa Valley Marriott Hotel & Spa here Wednesday for training camp and while there were familiar faces -- 17th-year defensive back Charles Woodson, punter Marquette King, top draft picks Khalil Mack and Derek Carr -- to be seen during the media access period, one notable figure was not.
Second-year cornerback D.J. Hayden, who missed all but the first session of organized team activities workouts this offseason with what coach Dennis Allen called an ankle injury, has become the Raiders' most intriguing figure as Oakland is in meetings and physicals all day Thursday before hitting the field for its first practice on Friday.
Speculation has started to swirl that Hayden, whose rookie season was awash in injury, is not fully healed and could begin training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list. The Raiders have made no comment and, presumably, will not until after physicals on Thursday.
Still, the condition of Hayden, who was the Raiders' top draft pick in 2013 despite a near fatal heart injury the previous fall, was one of three big questions facing Oakland entering this week.
I asked Woodson, who began his career at cornerback, how big a setback it would be for Hayden if he missed a significant portion of camp after a sports hernia ended his rookie season with just eight games.
"It would be a big setback," Woodson said. "The way you get better is being out there in the field. There's only so much film you can watch, only so many [mental reps] you can have that's going to take you [to improvement]."
Besides, Woodson said, the more time Hayden misses, the more opportunity another player has to take his spot.
"I don't even know what his injury is, but hopefully it's nothing that will keep him out or put him on PUP," Woodson added. "But it has the potential to be a big setback."