Six months after nearly dying from a scary on-field collision, D.J. Hayden says he's ready to focus on football again.
The Oakland Raiders rookie cornerback hasn't played since suffering a torn inferior vena cava during practice last November at the University of Houston. The injury, to the primary vein of the heart, comes with a 95 percent fatality rate.
But Hayden endured to became the 12th overall pick in the draft and was on hand for Oakland's noncontact rookie minicamp over the weekend.
"It felt so great just to be out there, to put the helmet back on and actually be back on the field," he said, via the Bay Area News Group.
Hayden said he's been "completely" cleared by doctors since the accident. His biggest health concern over the weekend was a slight hamstring strain dating back to his pro-day training regimen.
"He's looked pretty good," coach Dennis Allen said. "He made a nice play on the ball (on Saturday). I'm pleased with where D.J.'s at. It's going to be a learning process. It's putting one foot in front of the other. I think when it comes time to play games this September, he'll be ready to roll."
General manager Reggie McKenzie admitted after the draft he would have grabbed Hayden at No. 3 if Oakland hadn't traded the pick to the Miami Dolphins. Either way, they got their man.
The Raiders hope this comeback story is far from over.
Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.