Oakland Raiders first round pick D.J. Hayden has not had an auspicious beginning to his NFL career.
The rookie cornerback underwent surgery in May to remove scar tissue in his abdomen, and has been recovering ever since. On Saturday evening, however, head coach Dennis Allen announced that Hayden has been cleared for contact and can now wear a standard practice jersey for the first time.
“Missing a little bit of time earlier in camp was a bit of a setback, but he’s taken a lot of reps in practice,” Allen said, via CSN Bay Area. “I think he’s anxious and excited about getting an opportunity about getting an opportunity to play in a game.”
“Excited” would be an understatement. Two weeks ago, during training camp, Hayden tried to sneak out on the field in a regular, black practice jersey, but the coaching staff noticed and forced him to put on the red non-contact uniform.
His readiness is certainly understandable, considering that he hasn’t been cleared for contact since last November, when he collided with a teammate on the practice during college, rupturing his inferior vena cava and needing life-saving surgery.
Hayden has recovered just fine, and less than a year later, he will be on the field during an NFL (preseason) game, as he is expected to play this Friday against the Bears.