Skip to main content

DJ Hayden getting a fresh start in Detroit

As an Oakland Raiders cornerback last offseason, DJ Hayden worked out with Detroit's Darius Slay and Glover Quin in Houston in preparation for the 2016 season.

Hayden hopes again to do the same this offseason, but now he can call Slay and Quin teammates after signing in Detroit as an unrestricted free agent Saturday.

"I've talked to both of them and it's definitely something I'm interested in, just so we can get our chemistry down," Hayden said Saturday. "We're a team now, so for us to get our chemistry down would be great for the team so we can win games this year."

View photos of cornerback DJ Hayden.

Hayden, a first-round pick for Oakland back in 2013, gets a fresh start in Detroit after being hampered by injuries throughout his four-year career.

He missed time with groin and ankle injuries his first two seasons, played all 16 games in 2015, then finished last season on injured reserve with a hamstring injury.

He's appeared in 45 games (25 starts), and has tallied 179 tackles, 26 pass breakups, three interceptions and three forced fumbles.

In his only full 16-game season in 2015, Hayden (5-11, 190) recorded 70 tackles, one sack, one interception, a forced fumble and eight defended passes.

He started his career on the outside, but Oakland had a need inside at the nickel cornerback spot last season, so Hayden moved inside and played well there.

He told reporters Saturday he doesn't care where he plays in Detroit.

"I'm going to be wherever I'm needed," he said. "I'm just ready to work. As a football player, I feel like I can do whatever it is the team needs, whether it's inside, outside, safety or whatever. It really doesn't even matter. I'll just adjust accordingly."

In Detroit, Hayden, who has elite speed (he ran 4.33 at his Pro Day in 2013) and experience, has an opportunity to compete for playing time.

"When you're inside, you're basically almost like another linebacker," Hayden said of the difference between playing outside and in the slot in the NFL. "You have to run fit. You have to play a little bit faster. You have more action on the inside."

While at the University of Houston in 2012, Hayden nearly died in a freak accident at practice . A collision with a teammate ruptured a main vein carrying blood to the heart.

Going through an experience like that has given Hayden a greater appreciation for life and for second chances. He gets a fresh start in Detroit, and is hoping to make the most of it.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content