October 6, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders cornerback DJ Hayden (25) intercepts the ball against San Diego Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen (13) during the fourth quarter at O.co Coliseum. The Raiders defeated the Chargers 27-17. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Say what you want about corner D.J. Hayden but he was just starting to get it when he went out with a sports hernia last year. Now, he’s on the Raiders, PUP list and he’ll be there for the first six weeks of the season as he heals from a surgery on his foot. When he comes back, I expect some rust in the beginning but then expect him to play well down the stretch of the season.
Then there’s Chimdi Chekwa, who looked like the best corner on the team this preseason and he’s out with a knee injury. He was supposed to be back for tomorrow but he was just ruled out so I’m thinking next week for his return. The way Chekwa looked this preseason, he could have really combined with Hayden to make a nice tandem of corners behind the Raiders’ front seven rushing the quarterback.
Keith McGill was another guy that I had high expectations for as a big corner that is an athletic freak. Guys that are 6’3″, 211 pounds, run a 4.4 40, have a 30-inch vertical leap and do their 3-cone drill under seven seconds don’t grow on trees. But he sprained his ankle during the conditioning test and it’s been a long way back for him but he is starting to show a little something.
Then Neiko Thorpe came to training camp on a mission as it was reported that he didn’t allow a catch in all of camp. But he strained a hamstring and while he’s looked really good in spots, he doesn’t have his legs back under him yet. When they all come back from injury or regain the pre-injury form, the Raiders will be outstanding at the corner position.
But how long will that take?