Oakland Raiders: Tarell Brown

NAPA, Calif. -- DJ Hayden has been a constant observer at Oakland Raiders training camp. The surgically repaired stress fracture in his right foot has kept the cornerback from participating.

The No. 12 overall pick of the 2013 NFL draft underwent the procedure shortly after the Raiders' minicamp ended on June 19. And with recovery time from surgery to repair a stress fracture in the foot estimated between six and eight weeks, Hayden is about six weeks out.

Hayden is on the physically unable to perform list and coach Dennis Allen was asked Monday if he expected Hayden to be on the field before the end of the preseason, or if he was a candidate for the regular season PUP list.

"I expect to see him before preseason (ends)," Allen said, "but we’ll have to wait and see. He is getting better, but he is not ready to be out here playing football yet."

If Hayden does go on the regular-season PUP list, provided he remains on the preseason PUP list throughout, he must sit out at least the Raiders’ first six games.

Fourth-year cornerback Chimdi Chekwa has taken Hayden’s spot in training camp and has performed admirably thus far, with Tarell Brown at the other corner and Carlos Rogers in the slot.
NAPA, Calif. – Oakland Raiders cornerback D.J. Hayden, who missed most of the team's offseason training programs after rolling his right ankle and foot on the third day of organized team activities in May, will be placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list and miss the start of training camp, coach Dennis Allen said Thursday.

Allen, speaking to five media outlets and the team's Web Site over lunch at the Napa Valley Marriott Hotel & Spa, said an initial MRI of Hayden's ankle in the immediate aftermath of the injury showed no damage. But when the injury did not heal in a timely fashion, a second MRI revealed a stress fracture in the foot and Hayden underwent surgery just after the team's mandatory minicamp June 17-19.

There is no timetable for Hayden's return, though Allen said some players have returned in as few as four weeks time after a similar procedure.

"It's disappointing, both for him and for me," Allen said, "because he's a guy that we're counting on being able to step up and help us this year and he's a young player and he needs the reps."

With the Raiders having only 13 practices in Napa before they break camp and head to Oxnard for a pair of practices on Aug. 12 and 13, it is likely Hayden will miss camp.

Hayden, the Raiders' top draft pick in 2013 at No. 12 overall despite suffering a near-fatal heart injury as a college senior at Houston, had an injury-filled rookie NFL season. He missed a significant portion of his training camp recovering from surgery to remove resultant scar tissue in his abdomen and then played in eight games before going on season-ending Injured Reserve after undergoing sports hernia surgery.

He had one interception, which clinched the Raiders' home victory over the San Diego Chargers on Oct. 6, 2013, a forced fumble and 29 tackles, 23 solo, last season.

Hayden had been penciled in as the first-team right cornerback and, after that first OTA practice on May 27, he said he was "light years" ahead of where he had been a year earlier.

With Hayden's situation, Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown are Oakland's top two corners a day before the Raiders' first practice. Plus, Allen mentioned the progress of seventh-round draft pick TJ Carrie and fourth-year defensive back Chimdi Chekwa as potential corners in a nickel package. Allen did not say if Hayden's situation put the Raiders in the market for another cornerback.

"Is it a setback? Yeah, it's a setback," Allen said of Hayden. "Is it something that's going to keep him from being able to contribute this year? I certainly hope not. But that will be determined by how fast he's able to recover, how fast he's able to get out on the field. And once he's out on the field, what's he able to do? How's he able to perform?

"It's really about, how does the foot respond and when's he able to be pain free or we can begin to get him out there and start him running and start getting him into football activity."

And Hayden's mindset?

"I think he's frustrated but I don't think he's in any state of despair or anything like that," Allen said. "I think he understands he's got another challenge he's got to overcome … the kid wants to be out there, he wants to play. It's just been unfortunate that he's had some injuries that have kept him from being able to do that."
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- This offseason just feels different for Oakland Raiders second-year cornerback D.J. Hayden. And why not?

A year ago, Hayden, the Raiders' top pick of the 2013 draft, was not only still recuperating from the near-fatal heart injury that ended his college career early, but he was also recovering from a follow-up surgery to clear out resultant scar tissue.


[+] EnlargeD.J. Hayden
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsD.J. Hayden had 25 tackles and this interception in limited action during his rookie season.
"I'm great, I'm feeling a whole lot better," Hayden said last week after the Raiders' first organized team activity. "I've been lifting (weights), working out, and I actually got a full offseason in so I'm ready. I'm ready for the season to start.

"(Last year), in the OTAs, because seeing all my teammates out there working out and I'm hooked up to IVs, it might mess up anybody's head a little bit, but I'm way over that now."

The Raiders have just as much, if not more, confidence in Hayden as the team gathers today for an open-to-the-media practice to kick off Week 2 of the three-week, 10-practice OTAs.

Even if, after having a short-circuited beginning to his rookie season, Hayden's year came to a premature close with a trip to injured reserve after just eight games due to a groin injury.

You get the sense the Raiders want Hayden to claim the right cornerback position, with newly-signed Tarell Brown locking it down on the left side and Carlos Rogers coming in to cover the slot receiver in nickel situations.

"I think he's light years ahead of where he was at this point last year," Raiders coach Dennis Allen said of Hayden. "Not just from a physical standpoint, but really from a mental standpoint too. I think he realizes now that everything's going to be fine, he's going to be OK, and now he can really focus on getting better as a football player.

"I like what I've seen out of D.J. so far. (He) still has a lot of things to learn, (he's) still kind of a quasi-rookie out there, but I'm looking forward to his development and I think there are some good things in store for him."

In fact, it's as if Hayden is a "bonus" draft pick for the Raiders, one with half-a-season of NFL experience, including two starts, and an interception already under his belt.

"Well, I mean, he's not necessarily starting on ground zero like most of these rookies are so he's got a little bit of a head start, but yet he still has a lot of room to grow," Allen said. "There was a reason why we took him where we took him last year. We feel great about the player and we're excited to see how he can develop (from) last year."

Hayden had a "burn rate" of 60.6 last season, per Stats, Inc., giving up 23 receptions on 38 targets for 386 yards and three touchdowns. And the last time he was on the field, against the Philadelphia Eagles, Hayden surrendered 139 yards and two TDs on three catches, two to Riley Cooper and one to DeSean Jackson.

Hayden acknowledged, though, that being mentally healthy now might be more important than his physical well being.

"It really is because, if you know what to do, your natural reaction is you're just going to do it," Hayden said. "You're already athletic enough to do it; you just have to do it."