Darrius Heyward-Bey has plenty of critics willing to label him a bust before he's ever even played a single regular season game. But for three glorious hours Tuesday evening, DHB was shutting them up good by displaying hands that were stickier than Lester Hayes'.
The Oakland Trib's Jerry McDonaldasked last night on his blog, "Looking for some good news about Darrius Heyward-Bey?" And then he provides some. "How about 16 passes targeted, 14 receptions. No. 11 was a one-handed snag near the sideline."
He means catch No. 11, not Sebastian Janikowski.
McDonald also offers that of the two in-completions, one was badly under thrown and the other should have been a pass interference call. In other words, for one practice at least, Heyward-Bey caught everything catchable.
Did a light go on for DHB? Has the Maryland rookie turned a corner? One can't say based on a single practice, but it's sure better than hearing that he had "another four drops and outward signs of frustration", as David White of the Chronicle reported of Heyward-Bey's Monday practice.
Raider football enthusiasts who gobble up any and all things Raider-related on the world wide web -- and you know who you are -- may have also noticed that Raiders' second-round draft pick Mike Mitchell used Tuesday's practices as his own personal Royal Rumble. The little-known safety was on the Johnny Cage end of a number of vicious hits, and after practice told the San Francisco Chronicle, "He's going to be on his back and I'm going to be up yelling. That's how it usually ends."
At this point, these widely-panned top two Raider draft picks are playing like two very legit NFL players. It may not be long before critics who gave the Raiders an F grade for the 2009 Draft find themselves sitting in a corner wearing a dunce cap.