Oakland Raiders: 7 Things To Watch For In Second Preseason Game

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Dec 28, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos running back C.J. Anderson (22) is tackled by Oakland Raiders middle linebacker Miles Burris (56) and cornerback D.J. Hayden (25) in the fourth quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos defeated the Raiders 47-14. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

1. D.J. Hayden‘s Performance

The biggest knock on former twelfth overall pick D.J. Hayden has been his inconsistency. Okay, that’s actually the second biggest knock – the first is his inability to stay healthy and on the field. But when he’s been on the field, he’s been maddeningly inconsistent. One one play, he’ll look incredible. And on the very next play, he looks like a complete buffoon.

Now, finally healthy, Hayden has managed to stay on the field throughout camp to this point, but he’s still been maddeningly inconsistent. On the first play against the Rams, he gave up a 26 yard pass play. But after that, he buckled down and while not spectacular, was respectable. Unfortunately for Hayden, the Raiders are going to need more than respectable play from their corners. They are going to need outstanding play.

With the Raiders committing to their three young corners, Hayden, Keith McGill, and Travis Carrie, to carry the load, Hayden is going to have to step up if he wants one of the two starting jobs – both of which, are still up for grabs at this point. Hayden has done nothing to separate himself from the pack, but he’s also not shot himself in the foot yet either.

There is still time for him to find that gear within him that led McKenzie to using a first round pick on him. For his part, Hayden says his camp battles with Cooper and Crabtree have been teaching him much and strengthening his skills and focus on the field. Ad judging by the reports coming out of camp, Hayden has been getting tested a lot and having some memorable battles with Oakland’s receivers.

But will all of that translate into Hayden becoming the cornerback that an increasingly fewer number of people believe he’s capable of being? We don’t know yet. But with Minnesota’s big, fast receiving corps, he’s going to be getting tested quite a bit more. And the Raiders are hoping he can rise to that challenge.

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