In less than 24, the Oakland Raiders added rookie cornerback D.J. Hayden to the active/non-football injury list and then removed him from it.
On Friday morning, Hayden, the Raiders’ 2013 first-round pick, passed a team-administered physical that allowed him to join the rest of his Oakland teammates for the second day of training camp. The Raiders, however, made him a limited participant, which means that he is not yet cleared for full contact.
Hayden is still recovering from a torn heart cavity that brought him within minutes of death. The injury happened during a freak accident at practice, when Hayden collided with a University of Houston teammate while trying to cover a downfield pass.
After participating in the Raiders’ rookie minicamp and part of OTAs, Hayden underwent surgery in late-May to remove scar tissue from his abdomen. He missed the first day of training camp, but appears to be back on track for the silver and black.
Once Hayden is back to full participation, it is assumed that he will hold down the Raiders’ starting cornerback spot opposite either Mike Jenkins or Tracy Porter. The Raiders spent the No. 12 overall pick on the Houston product this past April, and are expecting big things from the rookie as he makes the transition to the NFL.
The biggest concern for Hayden is whether or not he can overcome the accident from a mental standpoint. After coming within inches of death, the rookie might become hesitant when contact comes early and often. Although the injury was a one-in-million occurrence, its near-devastating effects could forever linger in Hayden’s mind.
It’s a positive sign that Hayden is back in the mix at Raiders training camp. We won’t know for sure how he’s doing until the pads start cracking, though.