NAPA –- Raiders cornerback DJ Hayden has taken some heat for not being a consistent member of the first unit in training camp.
The No. 12 overall pick in the 2013 draft was expected to be the team’s top corner when the Raiders decided to go young at cornerback, but Keith McGill and a very solid TJ Carrie are young players in the running for that title.
Hayden had struggled some against new Raiders receivers Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper in recent days while working with the first unit.
On Thursday, Hayden was on point. He had a few pass breakups in coverage, but his finest effort was an interception of Derek Carr that could’ve been returned for a touchdown in a live setting.
Undrafted rookie Tevin McDonald snagged an interception, seventh-round pick Dexter McDonald and Carrie was predictably strong on a day where the secondary largely controlled passing drills.
The offense wasn’t thrilled with its effort, especially after throwing just one interception in the first five sessions.
“Today was a day we definitely want to learn from,” offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said. “As soon we learn from it, we want to forget it because it wasn’t the way you play winning football. So, today we let the defense get on too many footballs. That’s for sure.”
It was an good day for Hayden, who needs to stack positive showings on top of one another and have a good preseason to prepare for a productive season.
Rivera, Holmes shine without Walford: Rookie tight end Clive Walford has missed all six full-squad training camp practices with an undisclosed injury, leaving more reps for his healthy position-mates.
Walford, who figures heavily in the Raiders’ plans, is falling behind while out, a tough thing for a rookie trying to learn a new system.
“You can’t make up for those days you miss,” Musgrave said.
Mychal Rivera has been the primary receiving tight end, with undrafted rookie Gabe Holmes getting valuable reps.
Musgrave had some kind words for Rivera’s performance.
“He’s done a super job,” Musgrave said. “He’s terrific in the passing game.”
Injury update: Right tackle Menelik Watson and running back Michael Dyer were added to the group missing practice on Thursday. Dyer and fellow running back Roy Helu Jr. missed work, which gave more reps to Taiwan Jones, George Atkinson III and Trent Richardson, who was taken off the active/non-football injury list.
Clive Walford, Watson, Helu and defensive tackle Stacy McGee (PUP) did work on the side with trainers.
Other notes from Raiders practice:
-- Right tackle Menelik Watson missed Friday’s practice with injury, which gave Austin Howard his first crack at first-team snaps for the first time this camp.
-- Linebacker Josh Shirley hit running back Taiwan Jones a bit too hard and brought him to the ground, a no-no even in padded practices. Head coach Jack Del Rio let him know that was unacceptable.
-- Receiver Kris Durham made a solid touchdown catch in the back of the end zone in a red zone drill, reeling in a pass from Matt McGloin.
-- Khalil Mack did some work as a stand up pass rusher on Friday –- he flanked three down linemen -- and will continue to move around this season.
-- Matt McCants, a career tackle who has worked at guard since the spring, took reps on the outside on Friday.
-- Defensive tackle Justin Ellis bull rushed right guard J’Marcus Webb in a line drill, showing great power in one-on-one matchups.
-- Receiver Brice Butler had a strong session, and reeled in several good catches.
Daily transactions: None
Returned to practice: None
Did not practice: TE Clive Walford, RB Roy Helu Jr., RT Menelik Watson, RB Michael Dyer
Physically unable to perform: DT Stacy McGee
Non-football illness: WR Rod Streater
Next practice: The Raiders get right back at it on Friday morning with another practice in pads at 10:20 a.m. at the Napa Valley Marriott.