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ALAMEDA -- D.J. Hayden was at the Raiders complex a day after his first game in nearly a year, and was no worse for the wear. The Raiders cornerback played just 12 snaps in a 23-13 loss to the Cleveland Browns, but it was an encouraging step in the right direction.
“I’m glad I was out there suited up,” Hayden said on Monday afternoon. “I’m enjoying it. This is the best job ever.”
Injuries kept Hayden from doing his job recently. A sports hernia cut his 2013 season in half and a fractured foot kept him out from the offseason program on. Hayden was activated off the physically unable to perform list on Saturday, and was responsible for goal line packages and special teams coverage.
The Raiders graded him out pretty well.
“Going into the game, we thought that 20-25 snaps would be good for him in that game,” interim head coach Tony Sparano said. “He did a really nice job in the time he was in there. Defensively, he played five snaps and had one minus grade on technique. We thought he was solid on special teams. D.J. did a good job. He played hard and played fast. Little by little, we’ll get him more work.”
There was one play Hayden would like back. He got picked trying to cover a tightly bunched receiver formation, which allowed Andrew Hawkins to break free and catch a 4-yard touchdown pass.
“I definitely got picked, but Carlos (Rogers) and I should’ve (switched assignments),” Hayden said. “It is what it is now though.”
Hayden hopes to increase his workload, though Sparano gave no indication how quickly they would do so. Hayden is playing catch-up at an inopportune time, with just one padded practice per week and a lot of game planning in practice.
He’d like to accelerate his progress some, but he understands that isn’t always easy.
“These are the cards I’m dealt, and I have to play them right,” Hayden said. “…If they need to play every snap, I’ll play every snap. Whatever they need me to do, I’m there.”