After suffering a hamstring injury early in training camp, rookie D.J. Hayden missed the first two preseason games for the Oakland Raiders with a hamstring injury and has finally been cleared for contact.
Doubts began to circulate about the risky draft choice following the hamstring injury, but now Hayden is ready and anxious to make his NFL debut according to head coach Dennis Allen via Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle:
The first-round pick is “anxious and excited,” coach Dennis Allen said Saturday night, and will step right in for starter Tracy Porter. Porter injured his groin in Friday’s preseason loss in New Orleans, and it looks like he is out this week.
The Raiders rolled the dice with their first-round draft pick going with cornerback D.J. Hayden out of Houston. Hayden was coming off a near-fatal heart procedure that jeopardized his immediate future in the NFL. Oakland selected Hayden with the 12th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft and haven’t looked back, but were concerned after the hamstring injury.
Despite the heart procedure and doubts surrounding his future, the team decided to draft Hayden in order to bring in a considerable upgrade to the cornerback position. Although the Raiders were fairly talented at the position with Mike Jenkins, Tracy Porter and Charles Woodson, the team remained confident in the decision to go with Hayden rather than quarterback Geno Smith or any other promising young prospect.
Hayden made an appearance on the practice field on Sunday after being cleared for contact. The Raiders’ coaching staff expects Hayden to make his debut at O.co Coliseum on Friday against the Chicago Bears.