By now, the remarkable story of Raiders cornerback D.J. Hayden’s recovery from the ruptured inferior vena cava in his heart, an injury that’s fatal 95 percent of the time, that he suffered on an otherwise unmemorable play in practice last year at the University of Houston is well known.
What’s unknown is how Hayden will develop at the professional level. That development started this weekend at Oakland’s rookie minicamp, Hayden’s first chance to be back on the field practicing since his injury last year. Hayden said that it “felt great just to get back out there” and that he has no lingering effects from the injury to his heart.
“I don’t even think about it,” Hayden said, via Steve Corkran of the Bay Area News Group. “The only time I think about is when somebody asks me. But when I’m on the field, I don’t think about that. I think about the play and about the coverage that I’m in. I put it past me.”
Hayden was also dealing with the aftereffects of a hamstring strain he picked up while training before the draft, but played well enough to earn some praise from coach Dennis Allen at the conclusion of Saturday’s practice. With their defense in the midst of an almost total overhaul, the Raiders hope that’s just the start of the positive returns they’ll see from Hayden.