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The Raiders still don’t know when cornerback DJ Hayden will return to practice. The second-year pro has missed the entire preseason recovering from foot surgery, and he’s nowhere close to helping a position group beset by injury.
Starter Tarell Brown suffered a concussion in Friday’s exhibition at Green Bay. Chimdi Chekwa, slated to be Hayden’s replacement, has been out most of the last two weeks.
While it’s entirely possible that Raiders cornerbacks regain health by the regular season’s start, the Raiders are putting young players into positions of stress to identify options should injuries linger on.
Rookie TJ Carrie has played extended time with the first team on the outside. Second-year man Neiko Thorpe has impressed since returning from a hamstring strain of his own. Fourth-round pick Keith McGill has gotten some playing time, but he seems like a developmental prospect.
Forcing Carrie or Thorpe into immediate regular-season action isn’t ideal, but may be the best options should the group remain thin.
Here’s head coach Dennis Allen’s take on both players:
DA on Carrie: “He’s been a little up and down. He’s obviously had some good plays throughout this preseason. He’s also had some plays where he gave up some plays. I think you see that a lot of times with a young player. The hope is that he continues to learn from those things and continues to develop and get more confident in himself. There’s no question that he’s fully capable of playing in this league and he’s fully capable of playing at a high level and I think part of that is just developing that confidence in yourself that you can go out and do that. The more opportunities you get, the better he’ll get at that.”
DA on Thorpe: “Neiko Thorpe, I thought, played very well in the game (on Friday). He’s a guy that missed a lot of time in training camp with a hamstring injury, but was a guy that we were very high on as we were beginning to play these preseason games. I thought he picked back up where he left off last night. He’s a guy that I really think has an opportunity to help us.”
Some other notes from Allen’s Saturday conference call with local press:
-- Veteran quarterback Matt Schaub seems to be suffering from a lack of arm strength, but Allen is not concerned about it. He went a step farther and refuted the claim.
“I haven’t seen that,” he said, “so I guess the answer to that question would be no.”
-- Allen cited poor tackling for a disastrous opening drive where the Packers scored an easy touchdown. He thought the defense improved after that series and showed flashes of life after that.
“I saw some positive things against that offensive football team,” Allen said. “They had 51 plays in the first half, that includes the penalty plays, and anytime you give an offense of that caliber that many shots at you, they’re going to end up putting some points on the board. We’ve got to eliminate some of those negative plays and eliminate giving a good offense second and third opportunities. I think there was some signs that we could play some pretty good defense.”