Oakland Raiders: Week 9 Notebook

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Nov 2, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks receiver Jermaine Kearse (15) is defended by Oakland Raiders cornerback D.J. Hayden (25) at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

DJ Hayden Shows Flashes of Promise With Extended Playing Time

2013 first round pick D.J. Hayden got to see the field on defense for an extended period for the first time in 2014 in one of the toughest of spots against the Seahawks after TJ Carrie took Carlos Rogers place as the starting cornerback, putting Hayden into the third cornerback role. Much maligned for his injury problems since being selected by general manager Reggie McKenzie out of the University of Houston, Hayden reminded many that when he is on the field he can flash the promise that had some draft analysts pegging him as the best cornerback of his 2013 draft class due to his speed and athleticism.

Hayden was in perfect position for two near interceptions, including one that just hit the ground after a official review that called back a big late fourth quarter interception when Oakland were down 13 points inside the final five minutes. The second near big play was almost taken back for a Pick-6 if Hayden could have made the catch, but being targeted seven times the former first round corner held his own and had just one tough play go against him in a questionable pass interference call that came on near perfect blanket coverage before Seattle were given a hometown discount.

Some will point to the missed interceptions (even though Hayden couldn’t do much about the ground ball thrown by Wilson getting overturned as he made a great shoestring grab) and the hard luck penalties to continue to pile on Hayden out of frustration over his injuries to start his career, but yesterday was more than a positive sign that he can still be a starting cornerback in Oakland for years to come. Getting a big test at home next week against the Denver Broncos, Hayden should see even more snaps and hopefully more improvement as he looks to end 2014 on a positive note after a training camp injury put him on the shelf until halfway through the season. If he can build on Sunday’s performance he is close to changing the minds of Raiders fans who shortsightedly called him a “bust” after bad injury luck early in his still very young career.