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Jason Tarver: D.J. Hayden “definitely on the upswing”


Raiders cornerback D.J. Hayden didn’t have the best rookie season.

He needed surgery in the spring as a follow-up to the freak heart injury that almost ended his life during his final year in college, which caused him to miss some offseason work with the team, and then his season came to an end after eight games when he went on injured reserve with a groin injury. The results when he did play were mixed, but the Raiders think that Hayden’s on track to remind everyone why they made him a first-round pick.

“D.J. saw just about everything, both in life and in football, happen to him in his rookie season,” Raiders defensive coordinator Jason Tarver said on 95.7, via Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle. “From his surgeries to his injuries to what he’s overcome personall, physically, everything. He’s a great young man, working hard right now. He’s honing his technique, he looks explosive and he’s put on weight and strength. And he’s really focusing in on learning the little things in the defense so that he can play faster and be more aggressive on certain types of routes. He’s definitely on the upswing.”

Rookie cornerbacks can have hard transitions to the NFL under the best of circumstances, but being healthy never hurts. Hayden is healthy this offseason and Tarver said he’s added “weight and strength” in an effort to stop getting outmuscled by opposing receivers in his second season. If he makes that growth and linebacker Khalil Mack is as good as advertised, the Raiders defense will have a couple of cornerstones to build around for years to come.

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24 Responses to “Jason Tarver: D.J. Hayden “definitely on the upswing””
  1. snowdood163 says: May 15, 2014 2:26 PM

    Now he’s ready to contribute to a stellar 6-10 typical Raider season. Commitment to excrement.

  2. raiderbeat says: May 15, 2014 2:49 PM

    This defense needs the young guys to step up big time or it will not be known as the Silver and Black but the Grey in Black or the Salt and Pepper D.

  3. El Pollo Loco says: May 15, 2014 2:51 PM

    This raider defense will be fierce!!!

    If this was 2005

  4. junkmagnet2013 says: May 15, 2014 2:56 PM

    I am rooting for the kid and the Raiders. Let’s see Reggie’s master plan start to come together. I personally don’t see the Raiders going better than 8-8 AT BEST, given their brutal schedule, but I am 100% certain they will be greatly improved over anything we’ve seen in the past decade.

  5. joefelicelli says: May 15, 2014 3:02 PM

    Hayden has the chance to be a pretty good CB in the league, and has the physical tools to be very good to great. I hope the kid realizes his potential and gets there. While the Raiders are a nice punchline in the NFL the last decade or so, the NFL is a better place when hallmark franchises like the Raiders are competitive.

  6. honkeyt says: May 15, 2014 3:10 PM

    He had it rough last year with injuries but we (Raider fans) need to see something out of DJ. This article mentions Khalil Mack, and I love the pick but watch out for Sio Moore, kid can flat out ball. People are talking about this years draft having an impact and I hope it does, but if last years draft class can rise to the occasion along with this one along with the veterans, Oakland can have a special season. These last two drafts are setting the foundation for the Raiders future.

  7. doitbigreggiemckenzie says: May 15, 2014 3:17 PM

    I believe they have enough to hit 7 or 8 wins, anything more than that would probably take everything going their way.

    They will need Janikowski to bounce back because I can see them playing a lot of tight games.

    So sad that I am praying for 7 or 8 wins.

  8. slugdub says: May 15, 2014 3:18 PM

    2014 Raider Defense = Best in NFL
    2014 Raider Offense = Best in NFL
    Raider Organization = Best in the NFL

    …that is all

  9. djcologne says: May 15, 2014 3:25 PM

    Hayden is a great human interest story and I’m absolutely pulling for him. The defense needs this guy to be a stud shut down CB. Was he a reach…..absolutely! If he blosoms this year and Mack is everything everyone thinks he is then this Defense is on the right path. Just Win Baby!

  10. raiderufan says: May 15, 2014 3:27 PM

    Think about the versatility this defense now has with the addition of Mack, Woodley and Tuck coupled with Moore’s elite pass rushing ability and the draft addition of Jelly at NT to rotate with Sims. Tuck is used to kicking inside but is functional on the end…Woodley can stand or put his hand down…so can Mack or Moore and rush off the back of Tuck or Woodley…

    We can be very versatile in our pass rush and in the looks we give QB’s and we all know the best thing for DB’s to be successful is front 7 pressure.

    Our offense may not be to pretty in the passing game yet but we should be able run the ball, finally get rested defenders on the field and chase QB’s all game instead of just the entire first half while the offense goes 3 and out.

  11. jedi64 says: May 15, 2014 3:46 PM

    I think this team , on paper anyway , has a chance to be very good . Not playoff good but good enough to make some noise and compete for a playoff spot well into the latter part of the seaon . The offense is a mystery and until we see what Shaub has left it will remain a mystery . They’ll have to control the ball because I don’t see them scoring a bunch of points . Defense should be able to keep them in most games and they’ll need to have some things go right but I see a 7-9 finish and a chance to move forward and compete for the division in 2015 .

  12. realfootballfan says: May 15, 2014 3:58 PM


  13. moralsoverpolitics says: May 15, 2014 4:06 PM

    They try to cover up this great kid being a bust by hiding behind his success story of coming back from a rare injury

  14. slick50ks says: May 15, 2014 5:49 PM

    I don’t see this injured kid ever turning into anything. Another wasted pick because someone thought they were smarter than everyone else. I wonder when the fade will get an actual LT again. This won’t end well.

  15. raiderapologist says: May 15, 2014 6:52 PM

    slick50ks says: May 15, 2014 5:49 PM

    I don’t see this injured kid ever turning into anything. Another wasted pick because someone thought they were smarter than everyone else. I wonder when the fade will get an actual LT again. This won’t end well.
    Eric Fisher is an actual LT?

  16. raidersfourlife says: May 15, 2014 9:20 PM

    DJ will have a huge year. He will have the offseason he didnt have last year so he is getting important experience that he didnt have, he is also getting a well improved pass-rush which will force but and offbalanced throws and causing us some turn overs. It all starts with the front 7. Sherman isnt nothing without his.

  17. anhdazman says: May 15, 2014 11:25 PM

    Raider nation just got to believe baby. We went all out on defense this year. We got the rookie of the year! Mark my words. We’ll also have come back player of the year. Peyton, Rivers, and Smith must go down, down, down!

    Go Raiders!!!!

  18. raiders4ever says: May 16, 2014 4:30 AM

    haters of the Raiders will make this season that much sweeter as they look for anything to say negative or looking for excuses as Raiders chalk up enough wins to make the playoffs and will prove once again the Raiders are back and back stronger than ever dominating not just the AFC west but being a true contender for the Conference have to say Reggie McKenzie doing great job so far and this draft put a stamp on it !!

  19. madroaddog says: May 16, 2014 11:03 AM

    I am a Raider fan but not a koolaid drinker, Reggie took a big gamble drafting this kid with the first pick considering his injury history. For Reggie’s sake he better produce because this move did not go unnoticed by Mark Davis. That said, I wish the kid the best and hope he becomes a great story and not a statistic.

  20. aldavis4president says: May 16, 2014 12:36 PM

    Dj Hayden and Benjamin Watson will both beast this year, their working their tail off as we speak! Hayden looks like he’s been hittin the weights in his sleep! Still runs a 4.3 and Ben was good last year just hurt as well. GO RAIDERS!!!

  21. mindset839 says: May 16, 2014 9:52 PM

    Your opinion is based on what? Your vast knowledge of the cornerback position? Your hatred of a team that has struggled yet still maintains a rabid fan base? You hate your useless life and want everyone else to fail with you? Your a fan of a team that is fading and you hate to see the Raiders turn things around and pass them by? Go ahead and share the source or motivation for your endless negativity.

  22. mindset839 says: May 16, 2014 10:40 PM

    This is by far the best offseason the Raiders have had in the last decade. Free agency brought in solid veterans with no long term impact on the cap and then they had a very promising draft. The team is finally developing a core of young talent. All of the additions should result in a much improved team this year but nothing compared to what it will be in a year or two. This is how you build a team for long term success. I wish it didn’t take so long but at least I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel!

  23. robsaia says: May 18, 2014 7:09 PM

    To me, its not going be how many games they lose, but how they lose them. The chiefs went from a horrible team to a playoff one over one season, so it can happen. However, given the schedule, I don’t see more than 6 wins. If the Raiders lose those 10+/- games by an average of less than a touchdown – and not get blown out like last year – then they are making good progress and with one more good draft and free agency, they WILL be a playoff team.

  24. robsaia says: May 18, 2014 7:11 PM

    Hayden was NOT a reach if he becomes a shut down corner.

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