I can’t help but wonder why the Oakland Raiders front office was so careless in pushing Darrius Heyward-Bey into action early in OTAs. This resulted in him suffering a hamstring injury that may affect him for some time, putting him at a disadvantage during training camp in a few weeks.
He could even be potential IR material. If you doubt that, do a little research on hamstring injuries and how long they take to heal.
Every NFL team has similar goals with rookies and veterans. You want all your players to perform at peak levels and play through pain—to give everything they have 100 percent of the time.
It is no secret that professional athletes, especially in the NFL, are compelled to earn their money by sacrificing their bodies.
However, in the case of the Raiders organization, what I see is irresponsible handling of their premium talent.
The same thing occurred last season when Darren McFadden was used as a battering ram, running between the tackles throughout preseason and getting his head knocked in, until finally he managed to get a significant (yet understated) shoulder injury, as well as turf toe on both feet, just a few games into the season.
The net result? A great game against the lowly Chiefs, but McFadden was never the same for the rest of the season.
An unsigned rookie should not be put under a microscope so early after the draft. The NFL is a big step up. There is a maturation process that needs to take place. You don’t just step onto the field and try to outdo everyone around you. No doubt, Heyward-Bey felt the pressure to show the Raiders staff what he could do from the minute he put on the uniform.
The Raiders need their first round pick to learn and grow into the role as a big play receiver. No need to have the guy think he has to shine so early. Without a veteran mentor to show him the way, the Raiders organization has failed to provide their first round pick a model to follow.
You know who would be the perfect mentor for DHB? James Lofton. You have to wonder why he was replaced as receivers coach in favor of a much lesser coaching talent in Sanjay Lal.
At every turn, the Raiders fall on their own sword.
I don’t claim to be an expert in NFL contracts and insurance and all of that, but logic dictates that a cautious approach should be taken with unsigned rookies. He should not have his feet put to the fire immediately.
This whole scenario tells me the Raiders front office has done a face-plant and is relying on bad judgment or lack of any judgment, perhaps even incompetent training and coaching, to allow DHB’s injury to happen the way it did in the first place.