Darrius Heyward-Bey: Don’t Laugh Now!

Many chuckled when Al Davis picked wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey in the first round of the 2009 draft. He was called a "reach" and a "typical Davis track man."

Hall of Fame receiver Chris Carter said, "He can't catch the ball man!"

Carter didn't appear to be wrong from the first OTAs and minicamps. Watching then-quarterback JaMarcus Russell throw to Heyward-Bey was a comedy of errors.

Throw one: Russell drops back to pass and throws the ball off of Heyward-Bey's foot.

Throw two: Russell drops back to pass and the ball bounces off of Heyward-Bey's helmet.

This would carry into the games as well. Russell was ineffective in a November 15 game against the Kansas City Chiefs, so Bruce Gradkowski went in and almost pulled that game out.

Gradowski had a two-minute drive going deep into Kansas City territory and threw the ball to Heyward-Bey. Heyward-Bey then played volleyball with the football, resulting in an interception.

Heyward-Bey would add injury to that insult and miss a good portion of the season. He would then hear the whispers of "bust." His name was then placed right alongside that of Russell's.

However, his reaction would be anything but like Russell's. Only two weeks after the season, Heyward-Bey was at the Raiders facility working on his craft. All he wanted to do was catch footballs.

At a recent minicamp, things appear to be different: The man is catching the ball! There was one particular play that created a buzz in Raider Nation.

Heyward-Bey split two defenders with his blazing speed and caught a perfectly thrown pass by Jason Campbell for a TD. I can hear people quoting Allen Iverson now.

"We talkin' about practice man! Not a game! Practice!" It was a practice without the likes of Nnamdi Asomugha and Michael Huff at that, but we must...

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