CLEVELAND -– DJ Hayden hasn’t played a football game in nearly a year.
On Sunday, he’ll be back in the mix.
The Raiders activated the second-year cornerback off the physically unable to perform list on Saturday afternoon, one corresponding move from defensive end LaMarr Woodley and safety Usama Young being placed on season-ending injured reserve.
The Raiders also promoted defensive lineman Denico Autry from the practice squad.
Hayden, last year’s first-round pick has been out since late May with a fractured foot. He spent the first six weeks on PUP, started practicing last week and was moved to the active roster after just two padded practices.
Hayden hasn’t played since a Nov. 3, 2013 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. He suffered a sports hernia that required surgical repair and ended his disappointing rookie season earlier than expected.
Hayden has taken significant flak for his injury woes, which have plagued him since he was taken No. 12 overall last year. He had heart complications from a practice incident in college and had abdominal surgery that kept him out during last year’s offseason program. He’s played just eight games, but insists he’s healthy and in condition to play an NFL game.
The Raiders preferred to bring him along slowly -– they have more than a week of his practice window left -– but defensive injuries have made this an opportune time to get involved.
It’s uncertain whether Hayden will step in as the No. 3 cornerback over TJ Carrie, who has played well in that role. Veteran cornerback Carlos Rogers is questionable for Sunday’s game against the Browns with a knee injury.
Interim head coach Tony Sparano insists that Hayden is “good to go” health-wise and should be active.