Editor’s note: This is the second part in a series that spotlights three Raiders-Chargers matchups to watch Sunday, 1:05 p.m., at Qualcomm Stadium.
Raiders CB DJ Hayden vs. Chargers WR Keenan Allen
Tale of the tape:
Hayden (25): 5-foot-11, 190 pounds, second season, Houston
Allen (13): 6-foot-2, 211 pounds, second season, California
Raiders cornerback DJ Hayden’s best moment as a professional came covering Chargers receiver Keenan Allen. The Raiders cornerback stepped in front of a Philip Rivers pass and secured an interception in the end zone with two minutes remaining that set up an upset victory last season. There haven’t been many moments like that for the oft-injured first-round pick, who is finally healthy again.
[RELATED: Matchup No. 3: Miles Burris vs. Ryan Mathews]
He missed seven weeks with a fractured foot, and has generally played well since his return. He’ll have to against Allen, a fellow second-year pro who has performed relative to last season. Allen remains a major factor, but the Chargers have options in their air attack, which have limited him to just one touchdown this year. He’s a bit behind his rookie pace, but remains on pace for a standout season.
The aforementioned Raiders-Chargers affair was Allen’s breakout game. He had six catches for 115 yards and a touchdown. He could’ve had two if not for Hayden, a player he’ll line up across from several times, though not exclusively, during Sunday’s game against the Chargers.
It will be key for the Hayden to handle his business without much help, so the team can allocate resources in other directions.
“There are a lot of times where he started the down correctly and made great plays, and there’s a few downs where he kind of went, ‘I’m not quite sure about this.’ The best way to get better at playing football is playing football. He’s continuing to get better,” Raiders defensive coordinator Jason Tarver said.