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Q and A with DJ Hayden


Rookie CB DJ Hayden spoke to the media after hist first training camp practice. Photo by Tony Gonzales.

Q: Did you get over the fact that you were wearing that red jersey? You felt you are ready to go full speed?

DJ Hayden: Yeah, I'm just happy to even be out there. If I've got to have a red jersey on, then that's just what it is. I'm cool with it, happy.

Q: It didn't look like you were not doing anything…

Hayden: Yeah, I was active, participating in all of the drills. Got a couple reps in. I felt good.

Q: Do you feel like it's a good idea for you to have the red jersey on? To really get yourself back into it.

Hayden: Yeah, I mean it is team protocol. I don't mind, as long as I'm out there I'm fine.

Q: When are you going to be cleared to hit? Do you know?

Hayden: I'm not sure, whenever the trainers feel like they are comfortable with me doing physical contact again.

Q: Do you feel as if you are ready to hit?

Hayden: Yeah, I'm good. I feel real good.

Q: How does it feel to have the business part of it out of the way? Now you can worry about football.

Hayden: Oh, it's wonderful. I was kind of nervous a little bit. I really didn't know how the whole process went, but they told to just be patient and it all worked out.

Q: When that initial re-injury occurred, did you say, "Oh God, here we go again?" Was there a moment…

Hayden: A little bit but you know it was hurting, and I had to get it taken care of. Stuff happens all the time, I just had to deal with it and I'm here now.

Q: How have you dealt with that entire process, from the beginning to like I said, I guess now?

Hayden: I just looked at it as it was, and just prayed. Obviously, I don't know, God has got something for me, and obviously He wasn't ready for me to, I guess participate in OTAs or something but it is what it is now. I'm just ready to play.

Q: Did you think there was a time when you wouldn't play football for quite some time or…

Hayden: When I was in the hospital probably, my mind racing, but at the end of the day, I am here.

Q: Can you run us through the steps that you went through from the surgery until now, and the time frame for each of those? I mean you had that surgery and then you had go to recovery and then you had to rehab and so forth?

Hayden: For the second one?

Q: Yeah, for the one recently.

Hayden: Basically what you just said. Just heal, recovery, get my appetite back.

Q: So how long has it been since you were actually essentially getting ready for football again?

Hayden: About two to three weeks, I don't know. Somewhere around that range.

Q: Did you feel that missing the offseason stuff put you behind?

Hayden: As far as reps, yeah. But mentally I can still learn the plays. I can still get film study in, and just a little rusty but I'll shake the rust off. I'll be good.

Q: How is the pro game compared to what you did at the University of Houston?

Hayden: A lot more faster. Got to read a lot more. People bigger, and people are better, but football is football, so I think I'll be able to just be pretty okay.

Q: Have you had the chance to talk to Charles Woodson? Has he given you any kind of advice?

Hayden: Yeah, he has given me some good advice, on and off the field.

Q: What has he told you about on the field?

Hayden: Just go out there and be you. Do what you do. Listen, be coachable and basically just make plays.

Q: How much are you looking forward to the first contact when you get to do that, and just get past that sort of hurdle.

Hayden: I'm looking forward to it. I just can't wait to get that first contact in. Then I can feel relieved. I'll be like, I'm alright.

Q: When they put you on the NFI (non-football injury) list, how did it affect you? Did you think, "Oh no this is a big set back?" Or did you say, "I'm going to go back tomorrow, and I'm going to prove that" …

Hayden: The NFI list?

Q: The non-football injury list.

Hayden: I mean I was out there practicing so I was good…

Q: No, I mean as of yesterday it was only a day between, but when they told you that you were going to be on that list, did it weigh on you? Did you feel like it was going to be a setback or anything like that?

Hayden: Not at all, because I came out here, and I practiced. That's all I want to do. I feel good.

Q: Are you in football shape, or close to it?

Hayden: Yeah, I am.

Q: You know DJ, there are a lot of fans who are just excited at the possibility of you playing, and there are others who are worried that this could go bad. How do you temper yourself knowing that there are a lot of eyes on you?

Hayden: I try not to even worry about it. People are going to say stuff, I'm focused on whatever my coverage is. I'm focused on the man I'm guarding. So that other outside stuff, I have no control over it. I just control what I do on the field so that's what I focus on.

Q: What do you expect from yourself A guy that was drafted number 12? Raiders say they would have taken you at number three if they had not traded back. That's the kind of guy you expect to start right away. Is that what you expect?

Hayden: I mean maybe, maybe not. Whatever the coaches decided is best for the team, then I'm cool with it. I just want to go out there and do me.

Q: DJ, a lot of preseason publications list the Raiders really far down the rankings, like at the bottom of the league in all sorts of categories. I'm just wondering what's the feeling on the team starting training camp in terms of optimism or expectations that things can get turned around. Do you feel like there is a good feeling out here?

Hayden: I feel like it is a great feeling. I mean, it's training camp. Everybody's record is 0-0, so everyone is on an even scale right now so all we have got to do is go out there and do our job and we will be fine.

Q: Do you guys just shut it out, and not pay attention to those outside things that say the Raiders aren't going to be very good this year?

Hayden: I don't. I watch TV instead.

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