Raider Heyward-Bey Can't Hold Onto the Ball, But at Least He's Not Holding Out

Steven SmithCorrespondent IAugust 4, 2009

While I was skimming through the Oakland Raider camp notes, and cringing at Darrius Heyward-Bey’s camp struggles, I came across the most recent wide receiver signing of Jeremy Maclin. Thinking to myself I said, “Great. So all the first round receivers are in camp.”

Something seemed wrong about that statement so I checked out the signings. As I smacked my forehead and a proverbial “duh” came to my lips, I realized Michael Crabtree was still holding out.

I should have known better. Crabtree’s name has been more in the newspapers than on the back of his jersey. He didn’t participate in OTAs and understandably got scolded for trying to.

He has an uphill climb to overcome his foot injury, get back into football conditioning, learn the playbook, and build some chemistry with his quarterback (whoever that maybe). Yet I’ve still noticed that the majority opinion is that he will make a major impact this year.

Does that make sense? Can the guy with the yards from a gimmicky offense that is holding out while coming off a foot injury really still have that much support for this year?

Meanwhile, the chuckles can still be heard whenever Heyward-Bey’s name is uttered. His recent inconsistency catching the ball is only reaffirming the consensus that Heyward-Bey will be a bust.

My reply to them—you could be right.

Or you could be very wrong. Heyward-Bey's struggles aren’t something one should be surprised about. It was a known fact that he was inconsistent catching the ball while at Maryland.

What should encourage the Raider faithful is Heyward-Bey’s actual presence in camp. While Crabtree sits at home trying to get more money than his 10th overall selection should indicate, Heyward-Bey is getting plenty of reps to get him ready to produce on day one. Every rookie has to take their lumps for them to get better. You can’t improve if you don’t show up. There have been no complaints, just work.

I ask you all a question. With the developments (albeit brief) that have happened so far, who would you take now?

Do you take Crabtree—the holdout with all the physical tools, college records from an unorthodox offense, and an attitude to match? Or Heyward-Bey—the man with an equally physical skill set, inconsistent hands and presence, but comes from a pro-style offense and is working hard in camp?

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Who will be more successful? To me, the answer isn’t so clear. There could be no right answer, but I’m sticking with the guy who’s working hard now.

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