Oakland Raiders, Arizona Cardinals Preview: Key Matchups

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Oct 19, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) runs with the ball after making a catch against the Oakland Raiders in the first quarter at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

D.J. Hayden vs. Larry Fitzgerald/John Brown

A player that could really use an impressive performance against Arizona Sunday night is cornerback D.J. Hayden, as the now three-year corner has been heavily scrutinized for his play in the preseason, but unfortunately for Hayden, he will be up against some of the top receivers in the league.

Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is an experienced NFL wideout with strong route running ability and soft hands. At 6’3″, 218 pounds, Fitzgerald is a matchup nightmare against smaller defensive backs like Hayden, as he is more than capable of using his body to shield off the defender and make a play on the ball at it’s highest point.

Luckily Fitzgerald is just one receiver on the Cardinal’s roster, but second-year receiver out of Pittsburg State John Brown also has a skill-set that could create problems for Hayden.

Brown is a fast, explosive receiver that is always a threat to beat you over the top, but he also is quick out of his cuts and can be quite productive on short routes when running with the ball after the catch.

After watching Hayden struggle to cover former 2013 seventh-round pick Charles Johnson in Oakland’s Week 2 matchup against the Minnesota Vikings, it’s safe to say he will be at an even further disadvantage against Arizona’s top receivers. Though, if Hayden can make a breakup a couple passes and not allow Fitzgerald and Brown to make big plays, then his previous performances could start to be overlooked.

Next: Key Matchups: Khalil Mack Vs. Jared Veldheer