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ALAMEDA – The Raiders didn’t want to put DJ Hayden on the physically unable to perform list. They wanted him back from foot surgery and active in the starting secondary, but his recovery and the team’s need to man other positions forced head coach Dennis Allen to cry uncle.
Hayden wasn’t ready to help the Raiders near the start of the regular season. It was so clear Monday afternoon that they didn’t even bother to wait until Saturday’s deadline to place Hayden on reserve PUP.
They sealed Hayden’s fate on Tuesday morning, applying a designation that won’t allow him to practice or play for six weeks.
“We feel like he’s still a couple of weeks away from actually being ready to be out there, practicing and playing football,” Allen said. “He’s going to need some time to get in football condition, football shape and because we needed the roster spots for (Thursday’s exhibition), we went ahead and decided to make that move.”
It leaves the Raiders ailing at cornerback. With Hayden out and Chimdi Chekwa uncertain for the regular-season opener – the Silver and Black turn to talented, yet green TJ Carrie or physically gifted journeyman Neiko Thorpe for relief as subs in the nickel package. Allen has confidence in those players, but it certainly isn’t plan A or B.
Hayden’s health is the reason the Raiders are in this predicament. He’s been making progress in side work, but that doesn’t mean he’s close to a return.
“He’s able to do some planting and some cutting, but it’s a big difference between being over with the trainers and being able to do that and actually going out and playing football,” Allen said. “That’s why we made the decision.”
Hayden should be ready to practice in six weeks, though every estimated recovery timetable has fallen short. With six full weeks on the shelf, Hayden should be ready to go when he’s allowed to leave PUP purgatory.
“I’m optimistic that he’ll be ready, I think he will,” Allen said. “I think he’s close. He’s probably a couple of weeks away from really being able to participate in any type of football activity, and that being the case, we felt like it was the right move to hold him out.”
Hayden has been in this spot before. He’s had three surgeries in the 16 months since becoming a Raider, on his abdomen, groin and foot.
The Raiders have not made him available for comment, but Allen relayed Hayden's disappointment.
“He wants to play. He wants to be out there,” Allen said. “He doesn’t want to miss any more time, but that’s a decision that we’ve got to make as a football team, as an organization and that was a decision that we made what we thought was best for this football team.”