Good news for those of you eager to find out if DJ Hayden will either prove the Reggie McKenzie haters wrong or fall flat on his face.
Hayden is expected to be cleared for full contact this weekend and reportedly will make his debut next Friday against the Bears. This year’s 12th overall pick underwent abdominal surgery in May to remove scar tissue related to his near-fatal injury last year and missed most of the team’s offseason activities.
He’s since returned to the practice field and, save for two days he missed recently due to a hamstring strain, has been participating in training camp, albeit with coaches treating him like a fine piece of china by scaling back his participation and holding him hostage with a red “no contact” jersey. All bets are soon to be off, though.
The Raiders first-round pick should be cleared for contact on Friday, which would put him in line to play the preseason’s second half.
“We’ll re-evaluate with the doctors again after he’s been cleared,” Allen said after Monday’s practice, “but the plan is that he’ll be up and going by the Chicago game.”
The cornerback already tried pull a fast one on the coaches by sneaking out to practice without the red jersey earlier in camp. I’d like to imagine this being Hayden’s reaction, with him clad in that red jersey, upon getting the OK from doctors:
That looks like a man ready to play some FOOTBALL.
Early reviews out of Napa of Hayden’s performance in practice have hovered somewhere around “hey, this guy might actually be pretty good. IN YO’ FACE, MCKENZIE DOUBTERS.” He’s figuring into the mix for the team’s nickel corner spot. But it’s a whole new test when full contact becomes part of the equation. The training wheels are coming off. It’s a crappy cliche, but it’s accurate.