Coming into the final couple weeks before the start of the regular season, the Raiders secondary appears to be completely healthy for the first time. The latest to return to action was Tracy Porter who the team is counting on to compete for starting cornerback position. He will also be taking over as the team's nickel corner.
The team also got back D.J. Hayden recently, who played in his first game as a Raider in their week three contest against the visiting Chicago Bears. Hayden was expected to battle for a starting cornerback job until he had to get surgery to remove scar tissue from his abdomen and was not cleared for contact through most of training camp.
When Hayden returned, Porter was out with a groin injury. He suffered it in practice and re-aggravated the injury in the team's game in New Orleans. Porter rushed to get back not just because he had a competition on his hands but because the Raiders were playing his former team and he was eager to play. He admitted he rushed back too soon.
"I don't want to put bad things on film," said Porter. "I wanna get out there at 100% and put my true abilities on the field and that's what I made a mistake in doing in the New Orleans game. I thought I felt 100% going out there and I didn't, but I tried, being the competitor that I am, it turned out I injured myself. But, from now on something I really have to take heed of is listening to my body. If it says it's not ready to play then... I wanna be out there, but I have to be out there at 100%."
Dennis Allen said earlier in camp that the most likely scenario would be if anyone moved inside it would be Porter. He said today Porter will be playing nickel with Hayden starting at corner. Porter has a great deal of experience in that role.
"I've been [playing nickel corner] since about my third year in the league," said Porter. "That's when I started to ease into it. And in my fourth year I started to do what I'm doing now; start out at right corner and once the nickel came, I slide inside. I'm pretty familiar with the nickel position and what it demands. It's just a mind frame thing. You have to switch your mind frame once you go from corner to nickel because it's a totally different world once you go in there."
Since he returned to practice this week, he has been working at nickel corner primarily with Mike Jenkins and D.J. Hayden playing on the boundaries. This will continue through this week heading into the final preseason game.
This puts Joselio Hanson's roster spot in a bit of jeopardy. He was the team's nickel/slot corner last season after they picked him up off the waiver wire from the Eagles prior to the start of the season. He wasn't a world beater at the position last season and in a group that looks fairly deep, he could be in danger of being cut. At very least he will take a backseat to Tracy Porter and only see the field if Hayden or Jenkins are unable to go.