Raiders Out In Full Force For Mini Camp

An NFL team's first post-draft mini camp is often focused on just getting the new rookies acclimated to the coaching staff and system. But at this weekend's Raider mini-camp, even the vets reported for duty. The Raiders had the full roster on hand.

Thanks to the SF Chronicle, we've got our first good look at Jeff Garcia in a Raider uniform. It's him with the red, "don't hit the quarterback" jersey, but our first look nonetheless. For now, Garcia seems to be embracing the backup and mentor role to JaMarcus Russell. "It's not an easy role to accept because of the competitive nature that is within me," Garcia told the Chronicle. "I struggled with it when I was in Philadelphia. Knowing my role going in there, I had a hard time just sitting on the sideline watching. I still tried to be for Donovan, which is what I'll be here for JaMarcus."

But the new Raider whom fans really want the goods on is receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, whose first reviews were regrettably mixed at best. Heyward-Bey had three consecutive passes go right through his hands at Friday's practice, according to reports from the Oakland Tribune. He then sat out part of Saturday and all of Sunday's practices with fatigue and a sore hamstring. took Heyward-Bey's early troubles as a cue to begin another round of questioning Heyward-Bey's draft selection. "No one expects Heyward-Bey to make a first-year impact like Randy Moss did in 1998," PFT wrote, "But the decision of a team with unconventional methods and a recent history of questionable moves to make Heyward-Bey the seventh overall pick is prompting many to sit back and practice their delivery of the possible epitaph to his career. 'I told you so.'".

Veteran Raider observer Glenn Dickey sounded more like a text-messaging teenager than a chin-bearded grandad in describing Heyward-Bey's debut. "Ohmigawd," Dickey wrote in the Examiner. "That is not meant as a compliment."

But not all of the media were so down on Heyward-Bey this weekend. The Washington Post ran a reeeeally long Mother's Day piece profiling Heyward-Bey and his relationship with his mom as he transitions to being a pro athlete. It may be the least critical thing written about Heyward-Bey all weekend.

Consider though, that Heyward-Bey went into his first professional football practice matched up with the NFL's very best. Few rookies had to compete with an all-pro like Nnamdi Asomugha in their very first camp, but that's who Heyward-Bey had defending him. The speed of play and the physical demands of being covered by Asomugha are substantial for any receiver, let alone a rookie at his first camp.

If Heyward-Bey can adjust to that level of play before September, his mom won't be the only one saying wonderful things about him.

 Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who is still getting the hang of properly spelling "Darrius Heyward-Bey".

Copyright FREEL - NBC Local Media
Contact Us