DJ Hayden, Menelik Watson Return to Practice Thursday
By Chase Ruttig
After missing practice on Wednesday, 2013 draft selections of the Oakland Raiders in D.J. Hayden and Menelik Watson were again under the microscope with their names on the injury list once again. However any worries about their injuries were quickly ended on Thursday as the second year duo returned to the practice field to prep for the team’s visit to San Diego to take on the Chargers on Sunday in the second game of the AFC West rivals series this season.
Hayden had a minor groin pull in Sunday’s loss to the Broncos where he was arguably the best defensive player on the field, getting an interception on Peyton Manning and nearly getting a second on great coverage on a corner endzone throw from Manning in the second half in what was his second impressive performance since returning from a foot injury where the 2013 first rounder exhibited that he still has the elite speed in coverage that Reggie McKenzie saw when he drafted him. Watson was being monitored for a concussion, but it appears that the second round pick out of Florida State has recovered as well in joining Hayden at practice.
It is big for both Hayden and Watson to stay healthy as they need to continue to prove that they can be reliable contributors for the future as the Raiders continue their rebuild. Both have plenty of skill and promise, but the big step for them will be to show that talent on a week to week basis. That starts with staying on the field, which has been a problem for both players. Already banged up in both the secondary and on the offensive line, the Raiders need both to be out there on Sunday if they want to upset the Chargers. Practicing on Thursday is a good sign that both will be ready to go when the team travels to San Diego.