There was big news out of Napa after practice Monday, not only did coach Dennis Allen tell the media that top pick D.J. Hayden will start in the Oakland Raiders third preseason game, he revealed something far more surprising about 2013 second-round pick Menelik Watson.
Watson, a talented but raw right tackle who’s missed almost all of training camp with nagging injuries, is going to get a chance to play left tackle with Jared Veldheer out for an extended period, as it’s all hands on deck for the Raider offensive line. And Dennis Allen making it clear nothing is off the table.
I think that’s something that is a possibility, it’s something that we could look at. We’ve got to get the best five guys that give us the best chance to have success. Whoever those best five are, we’re going to put them in the positions that give us a chance. Hopefully we’ll get Menelik out here back and ready to go.
That surprising revelation came on the same day Jacoby Ford, Mike Breisel and defensive tackle Vance Walker all returned from missing big chunks of practice time, as Napa offered up good news to a fan base desperately in need of some good cheer.
The coach’s announcement about D.J.’s starting gig on Friday must’ve been sweet music for the playmaking corner out of the University of Houston who has had a long road back to the football field, and seems eager to prove the Raiders made the right decision when they drafted him after his life-threatening injury in November.
Allen said D.J. would play deep into the third quarter against the Chicago Bears in Oakland on Friday. Hayden wasn’t involved in any major collisions on Monday, and he seems to wondering what all the fuss is about.
It felt like a normal practice to me, and it felt good to feel normal again, I’m really excited for Friday. The only time I ever think about it (the collision) is if I look at the scar, or if somebody asks me about it.
Monday capped a whirlwind weekend for Hayden, the 12th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.
On Friday he was on the field and in uniform for pre-game warm-up in New Orleans. Hayden practiced without the no-contact jersey for the first time on Sunday, when the Raiders don’t hit or where pads, the next day he participated in his first full-contact practice, and before the day was through, Allen named him a starter for the Raiders’ third preseason game in Oakland just four days later, when Hayden plays his first game ever as a pro.
It’s been a rough summer for Raider fans, but today was a good day.