ALAMEDA, Calif. -- A draft pick called risky by has become an even bigger gamble as Oakland Raiders first-round selection D.J. Hayden underwent abdominal surgery and will miss the rest of the offseason program.
Hayden, taken with the No. 12 overall pick in the draft, was resting in an undisclosed local hospital on Tuesday. A warm and fuzzy NFL draft story that went national, Hayden was taken by the Raiders after a miraculous November recovery from a torn inferior vena cava, a vein that brings blood to the heart.
An injury normally seen in automobile and blunt trauma accidents with a 95 percent fatality rate, Hayden not only got better but rehabilitated so quickly that he regained his standing as a first-round draft pick.
While some teams reportedly took Hayden off their draft boards -- or at least decided they wouldn't use a first-round selection on him -- Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen said the risk was minimal and that he had been cleared medically.
Allen compared the injury with "being struck by lightning twice." While the original injury was indeed rare, Allen conceded that he's not sure if the surgery to repair it had anything to do with the abdominal surgery.
Blood poured into Hayden's abdomen when the vein ruptured and the surgery split his sternum and caused a scar that ran from the bottom of his neck all the way past his stomach.
"We can't rule that out, obviously, but right now I don't know exactly what the correlation is to it," Allen said. "But we don't anticipate it being an issue."
The injury certainly slows Hayden's progress. The Raiders were high enough on Hayden's ball-hawking skills and coverage ability that he almost certainly would have projected as a starter, with either veteran Tracy Porter or Mike Jenkins sliding into the nickel role.
Instead, when training camp opens, Hayden will either just be getting his legs under him or open on the physically unable to perform list for more rehab.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Dr. Walt Lowe, Hayden's doctor at the University of Houston, said abdominal surgeries can take six weeks to heal -- one week into Raiders training camp.
"It's obviously not a good thing, from a football standpoint," Allen said. "As a rookie, you need all the reps you can get and all the work you can get."
Hayden said in a tweet on May 20 that his stomach was hurting, but there had been little indication of an issue earlier in the day.
"You could tell he was under the weather," safety Usama Young said. "I thought that's what it was -- he was under the weather ... it took me by surprise. I didn't think he was that sick."
Young said he communicated with Hayden via text message and Hayden said he is doing "a lot better."