The third game is generally the most important game of the NFL preseason schedule and is the game that sees the expected starters for Week One get the most of their preseason reps. With first round (12th overall) draft pick D.J. Hayden still wearing the red “no contact” jersey after returning to Raiders practice Monday it was unclear if the highly rated cornerback out of the University of Houston would be cleared for contact in time to play against the Chicago Bears in Week Three.
Already ruled out for Friday’s trip to New Orleans, Dennis Allen let Raider Nation know that Friday would still see good Hayden progress despite him not being on the field, saying that he has been told that Hayden will be cleared to participate in full contact activity.
“Friday is when he should be cleared for contact,” said Allen. “We’ll reevaluate that with the doctors after that, but the plan going forward, I would anticipate, is he would be up and going for the Chicago game.”
Clearly Hayden won’t play on Friday despite being cleared for contact as he hasn’t even participate in a solitary rep of contact drills in Napa with his return from a near-life ending injury has been cautiously approached by doctors and the Raiders organization. With the seriousness of his injury issues, the Raiders have wisely protected their investment and went through due process in his rehab, not rushing him back too fast to get him ready for Week One.
It is great news knowing that Hayden will be fully prepared with two preseason games against Chicago and Seattle prior to his regular season debut in Week One at Indy. Hayden has the potential to be a game changer for Oakland all season long with his playmaking ability and speed that is out of this world, hopefully he will never have to deal with health issues again in his career. At this point, he has been through enough.