When the Raiders picked Darrius Heyward-Bey over Michael Crabtree in the 2009 NFL draft, I wasn’t all that upset. While he didn’t actually say it, Crabtree hinted publicly he didn’t really want to play for the Raiders. So who needs him, right?
In his rookie season, Heyward-Bey didn’t exactly light up the field with his play, but he also didn’t have a very good quarterback throwing to him. "Plastic Man" couldn’t have caught many of the passes JaMarcus Russell threw in Heyward-Bey’s direction, they were so far off mark.
After suffering through JaMarcus Russell’s seemingly lack of effort in his three years with the Raiders, I was impressed with how hard I heard Heyward-Bay worked during the past offseason. Sounded like the kid really wanted to improve, and with a better quarterback I was very hopeful that might happen this year.
Then I hear reports Heyward-Bay sat out four practices in the middle of training camp because of fatigue. Not an injury, fatigue.
When reporters suggested to Raiders coach Tom Cable that Heyward-Bey may have overtrained during the offseason, he said, “Yeah. I think guys do that now, especially with the way the offseason is and as long as they are and all that. He’s OK. I’m just not going to put him a situation where it may get us a negative outcome.’’
How could a 23-year-old professional athlete overtrain? I mean really, was he out there practicing 16 hours every day during the offseason? I don’t think so. I think the Raiders are probably trying to hide some kind of injury to Heyward-Bay from the prying eyes of the press.
The Raiders have been trying to justify their pick of Heyward-Bay over Crabtree ever since the 2009 NFL draft, and they have been promoting Heyward-Bay all summer as a hard-working receiver who is doing everything he can to improve.
Maybe he is a little fatigued, but what NFL player wouldn’t be after training camp? I think this was their way to try and spin this in a positive light. But like so many things the Raiders management does, this may backfire. I think letting everyone know Heyward-Bay was injured would be better than saying a 23-year-old was fatigued from working so hard during the offseason.