2nd-round pick signs after Raiders arrive at camp

By JOSH DUBOW - AP Sports Writer
    2013-07-24 21:39

NAPA, Calif. (AP) - Second-round offensive tackle Menelik Watson signed his rookie contract with the Oakland Raiders on Wednesday leaving first-round cornerback D.J. Hayden as the team's only unsigned draft pick.

Watson signed his deal hours after most of the rest of the rookies, undrafted free agents and other young players filed off two buses as they arrived for a one-month stay at training camp in wine country.

Watson is a converted basketball from England who played one year of junior college football and one year at Florida State before being drafted by the Raiders. While he is considered somewhat raw as a player he will be given a chance to compete for the starting right tackle job with incumbent Khalif Barnes.

Hayden is the last of the 10 picks who needs to sign a contract with Oakland before the first training camp practice starts on Friday. It still remains to be seen whether Hayden will be able to participate right away even if he does sign after undergoing offseason abdominal surgery.

Hayden's offseason got cut short when he needed surgery in late May to remove scar tissue from the abdominal region. That operation came months after a near-fatal practice injury that ended his college career at Houston early.

Hayden was rushed into surgery last November for a tear of the inferior vena cava, the large vein that carries blood from the lower half of the body to the heart, after a collision in practice. Doctors had to cut through Hayden's sternum to save him. The injury is 95 percent fatal in the field, according to doctors, and is most commonly associated with high-speed motor vehicle accidents.

The Raiders still selected Hayden 12th overall with their first first-round pick since 2010 after doctors cleared him to resume playing football. The team said at the time of the offseason surgery that Hayden was expected to be back for camp but nothing will be official until after he signs his contract.

The rest of the rookie class has signed, including fourth-round quarterback Tyler Wilson, who finalized his deal on Tuesday and got to camp with the rest of his teammates a day later.

``I knew it was going to be worked out,'' Wilson said. ``Glad we got that finished. Now it's about moving on toward camp and figuring out a way to win games. So, that's the exciting part. We're all ready to move forward and get things going.''

The Raiders are in the second year of a major rebuilding project under general manager Reggie McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen. Most of the roster has been overhauled since they took over following the 2011 season and much of the focus has been on shedding big contracts and former high picks who failed to work out in Oakland.

About 40 percent of Oakland's salary cap will be dedicated to accelerated bonuses for players no longer on the team, leaving little money for stars or depth. But the players remain optimistic about the team's situation.

``I think coach Allen and Mr. McKenzie have done a great job in this offseason, and I think we've done a great job in this offseason in the OTAs and minicamps,'' offensive lineman Tony Bergstrom said. ``I think all the pieces are there now and it's just a matter of getting them working together in the right way in this camp.''

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