When Darrius Heyward-Bey was selected seventh overall in the draft, the whole world knew that the Oakland Raiders were undertaking a project.
After some up and down performances in training camp, the question now is how long until Hey-Bey puts it all together?
Give the rookie credit. His agent worked furiously to make sure he was in camp and ready to earn his keep. He shows up everyday with a workman like attitude and a desire to improve. He runs great routes and has shown flashes of being the homerun threat that Al Davis envisioned.
The biggest issue is the one that hangs around his neck like a 24-inch fiagro chain bought at the swap meet: his hands.
For receivers, your hands are like the legs on a sprinter. Your hands are the bread and butter of the position as an NFL wide out. Too many Braylons and you could find yourself out of a job.
Adjusting is never easy. Six months ago Darrius Heyward-Bey was just a kid at the NFL combine trying to get noticed. Now, he’s got the weight of $20 million in guaranteed money hovering above his head, the laughter of Cris Carter still ringing in his ears and his introduction to the NFL is lining up face to face with Nnamdi Asomugha in the heat of August.
Not to mention that Darrius had his worst performance when Mr. Davis was one of the faces in the crowd. After being given a lecture by the boss and seeing his position coach get an earful from Tom Cable, you can see why Heyward-Bey is pressing.
Even though the Maryland native was a sprinter in his former life, he’s got to know that this is a marathon of the most grueling circumstances.
Nothing comes easy in the pros, making progress each day is the key. So long as his teammates continue to encourage him and he stays the course of being dedicated and receptive to coaching, he’ll be putting himself in a place to succeed.
Of course, when you’re a Raider fan and you’ve had to suffer through the six worst years of your football life. Patience is not something you look forward to cheering for on Sundays.
The pressures are many. The expectations are high. The world is watching.
Every receiver drops the ball on occasion. However, not every receiver was welcomed into the NFL in such an unceremonious manner as Darrius was.
Time is not a luxury in the NFL and the clock is already ticking on Heyward-Bey.
How long will it be until the truth of this controversial pick is revealed?
If it takes him all of his rookie year to become the playmaker that stretches the field for JaMarcus Russell will it be too late? What if DHB doesn’t come around until his third year of being buried on the depth chart behind Chaz Schilens and Louis Murphy?
There is no timetable for adjusting to the NFL. There is only the here and now.
Right now, we’ve got more questions than answers.
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