The Raiders won’t have first-round cornerback D.J. Hayden in the lineup against the Cowboys on Friday night and he won’t play a week from Friday against the Saints either.
That was the word from Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie, who said that Hayden is slated to see his first game action when the Raiders host the Bears on August 23. Hayden is still wearing a red no-contact jersey after having abdominal surgery in the spring that was related to the near-fatal heart injury that ended his final season at the University of Houston, which means that he’s had a long stretch without full participation in football. McKenzie thinks getting back into the right frame of mind will be Hayden’s biggest stumbling block.
“It’s the mental part,” McKenzie said, via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. “He’s going to have to pull the trigger on some things, get the big hit, make plays, he’ll be back to normal mentally. Physically, he’s already there. His weight is right back, his strength, he’s been normal. I’m excited to have him. It’s going to be interesting because people are still going to wonder, how good is he? Let him show some people.”
McKenzie had praise for several other members of the draft class, but their rebuilding effort would take a major blow if Hayden isn’t able to recover the form that he showed before his injury last year. McKenzie’s confident that he will and the rest of us will start finding out in a couple of weeks.