Around the NFL  

 

DJ Hayden has uneven NFL debut for Oakland Raiders

The Oakland Raiders had little to celebrate Friday night, but the debut of their first-round draft pick, DJ Hayden, goes beyond the ghastly box score.

The rookie cornerback started in a 34-26 preseason loss to the Chicago Bears, marking his first game action since he suffered a near-fatal heart injury last season at a University of Houston practice.

Friday's results were mixed. Hayden whiffed while trying to tackle Alshon Jeffery on third-and-1, allowing the Bears wide receiver to plow for 22 yards on Chicago's opening drive. Hayden made up for it three plays later, breaking up a pass to Brandon Marshall that popped into the air and nearly was hauled in by defensive end Jason Hunter. The Bears settled for a field goal on the drive.

Hayden -- at 5-foot-11 -- was up against two tall, physical receivers in Marshall and Jeffery, but he was uncowed by the challenge. He made a handful of instinctive reads but struggled against the run. Hayden's lesser moments can be chalked up to inexperience; he looked the part more than once against Chicago's first-string offense.

It was a tough game to be dipped into raw. Hayden's efforts were drowned out by a Bears attack that relentlessly pushed the ball downfield, piling up yardage and points. The Raiders are a messy operation, and the No. 12 overall pick in April's draft will be asked to grow up immediately on a team sorely lacking star power.

The "Around The League Podcast" is now available on iTunes! Click here to listen and subscribe.

Fan Discussion

NFL News
CONTENT
15