SEATTLE – DJ Hayden barely saw the field in his return to game action, with just five defensive snaps in last week’s loss to the Cleveland Browns.
On Sunday afternoon, Hayden was a major player. He could’ve been a far bigger one.
The second-year cornerback let a pair of interceptions slip through his grasp in a 30-24 loss to the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field.
The first was a potential pick six -- Oakland did score a play later on a blocked punt -- and the second could've hastened the Raiders' comeback attempt if his interception wasn't overturned upon review.
Hayden left the locker room quickly and wasn’t available to discuss his play and certain opportunities missed. Safety Charles Woodson stepped up in his stead.
“DJ had a chance to make some game-changing plays,” Woodson said. “That’s what the team is looking for out of him. Now the object is to come down with those balls. It’s good for him to know that he can play this game at a high level.
"On one possible pick, I thought for sure he was going to score. He has to come down with it next time.”
Hayden had seven tackles and two passes defensed as the No. 3 cornerback, a domino effect from Carlos Rogers being ruled out with a knee injury. He played outside corner and was picked on some, but held his own with generally tight coverage.
Hayden was called for a pass interference play that moved Seattle 36 yards and into the red zone. His temper flared in the second quarter, when he was flagged for a 15-yard taunting penalty after allowing a completion good enough for a first down. Both infractions were on drives that resulted in touchdowns.
“You just can’t do it,” Woodson said. “We’re in a tight ball game and you can let those things happen. We might’ve been able to get off the field there.”
There were good moments and bad for the 2013 first-round pick, who spent seven weeks on the physically unable to perform list recovering from foot surgery.
The Raiders hope he can learn from Sunday’s experience and progress towards better play. Hayden can be an excellent cover man when healthy, but seasoning is required to reach his potential.
“Remember that this is a young player who hasn’t seen much action,” interim head coach Tony Sparano said. “You want him to learn from these situations. He needs to watch the film closely and make the right corrections. That’s something we need to follow.
"You can suggest corrections to some guys and they don’t actually make them. I think that D.J. is the type of kid who is so eager to learn and play and compete that it won’t be an issue.
“I saw him compete hard. That’s a good sign.”