OAKLAND – D.J. Hayden played football for the first time in nine months, and came through it just fine.
The cornerback taken No. 12 overall played into the third quarter of Friday’s 34-26 preseason loss to the Chicago Bears, exiting with the rest of the Raiders first unit.
It was a major milestone for the first-round pick, who hadn’t hit or tackled anyone since rupturing a major artery at a November practice at the University of Houston. The incident should’ve killed him, but Hayden recovered fully and received medical clearance to play football again. He was formally cleared for contact on Aug. 16, practiced this week and prepared to play the Bears.
His Raiders debut wasn’t perfect, but Hayden emerged from this game physically fine.
“There were a lot of firsts that he got out of the way tonight,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. “I’m looking forward to continued improvement from D.J. as we move forward.”
Hayden made a few nice plays, and made heavy contact with running back Matt Forte as typical as a heavy hit. He also missed some tackles, was out of place in coverage and gave receivers a ton of room early on. He had three tackles and a pass defensed in the game.
All in all, it was a positive experience that should allow Hayden to move past his medical issues.
“He made a couple of plays, but he was definitely rusty,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. “It’s his first game experience in some time, and I’m sure we’ll look back and see some positive things. I’m sure we’ll see some things to work on too.”