Oakland Raiders cornerback DJ Hayden will miss at least the first six weeks of the season after being placed on the physically unable to perform list Tuesday with a stress fracture in his right foot.
The move is the latest setback to Hayden since being drafted 12th overall in 2013 with general manager Reggie McKenzie’s first first-round pick in Oakland.
"We didn’t feel like he was going to be ready," coach Dennis Allen said. "We feel like he’s still a couple of weeks away from actually being ready to be out there practicing and playing football."
Hayden has struggled to get on the field because of a variety of ailments. He missed the entire offseason and part of training camp his rookie season recovering from abdominal surgery related to a surgery for a near-fatal heart injury in college.
He started two of the eight games he played last season before having season-ending sports hernia surgery. He was overmatched when he did play, allowing 26 catches on 40 throws with him in coverage for 376 yards and three touchdowns, according to Pro Football Focus. He had an interception and allowed a 110 passer rating against.
The Raiders had been hoping for big things from Hayden this season after an offseason when he was able to regain the strength he lost following the heart surgery in college.
He impressed the coaching staff early in workouts before being sidelined with what was originally called a rolled ankle during the first week of organized team activities in late May.
But after it did not heal, an MRI in late June showed the stress fracture, leading to surgery. Hayden was expected to miss one to two months but now will not be able even to practice until Oct. 14.
"I think he’s disappointed, as any competitor is," Allen said. "He wants to play. He wants to be out there. He doesn’t want to miss any more time. That’s a decision that we have to make as a football team."
The Raiders will then have a five-week window to decide when Hayden will be healthy enough to practice again. He can practice for up to three weeks before the team must decide whether to put him back on the active roster or shut him down for the rest of the season.
Allen said he’s optimistic that Hayden will be ready to practice as soon as he’s eligible and hoped it will not take make time to get him ready to play.
Hayden’s absence means free-agent acquisitions Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers will be slated to start the season opener at cornerback against the New York Jets on Sept. 7. That will mark the third straight season the Raiders will have two newcomers start at cornerback.
With Chimdi Chekwa also slowed by an injured knee, rookie TJ Carrie and former CFL player Neiko Thorpe could be the best options in nickel formations, with Rogers going inside to play the slot.
The Raiders made several other moves to cut down to 75 players on the roster before Tuesday’s deadline. They released fourth-string quarterback Trent Edwards, waived receiver Juron Criner, placed tight end Nick Kasa on injured reserve, waived guard Lucas Nix with a failed physical for a knee injury and waived safety Larry Asante, receiver Greg Jenkins and running back Kory Sheets with injuries.
NOTES: LB Sio Moore was back at practice for the first time since being hospitalized Friday with a strained neck suffered in an exhibition game in Green Bay. … QB Matt Schaub threw on the side but did not practice for the third straight day with a sore elbow. He will not play Thursday. … RT Menelik Watson was back at practice after hurting his hip last Friday.