By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Thursday, July 30th, 2009 at 7:26 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Let’s be fair about it. It wasn’t exactly an optimum situation to go out for your first pass as a rookie first-round draft pick with a reported $23.5 million guranteed in your back pocket.
All the other Raiders receivers had been going through warm-ups together, catching some passes, while Darrius Heyward-Bey got in a little late while his contract was finalized.
But the Raiders couldn’t resist taking their high-speed toy for a test drive, and after he was done being stretched by a trainer, Heyward-Bey took the field. He went vertical of course, lining up on the left side and streaking 35 yards downfield.
Quarterback Charlie Frye arched a somewhat wobbly pass his way. Heyward-Bey got his hands on it, then it clanked to the ground.
“Didn’t get no balls before I got out there,’’ Heyward-Bey said. “That’s not good. But coach was like, `Go out there.’ And after that play it was like, `Well, you didn’t get any balls. He was like, `OK, that was my fault.’ Just the first day, getting out there right after the warmup. Things happen.’’
Afterward, the Raiders went to team sessions where there were no passes thrown. Instead was a procession of quick whistles and choreography, making sure they were lined up correctly, making the right reads. Footwork was checked.
At one point, passing game coordinator Ted Tollner called Heyward-Bey over told him of a mistake in a pass route.
As usual, there is little drama when it comes to the Raiders and their draft picks. The Raiders remain among the NFL’s best when it comes to bringing in their draft picks, with the JaMarcus Russell impasse the only blemish.
“I was aware of that, and I felt like it was headed in the right direction and it would get done so I had some comfort with it, but at the same time I wanted all of them here at the first meeting. He is here now and we worked today and he will get right into the flow of things.’’
Heyward-Bey, who proclaimed his hamstring ready to go (he missed time during mandatory minicamp and the OTAs), said he didn’t want to wait around until the 49ers Michael Crabtree signed or get the proper slot between Nos. 6 (Andre Smith) and 8 (Eugene Monroe) .
“I’ve always been concerned with myself and only me from Day 1,’’ Heyward-Bey said. “ I really can’t worry about what everybody else is doing. We were focusing on being a Raider and that’s it.’’
More news and notes from the second practice:
– Moments after Heyward-Bey went to the field house to get his equipment on and join his teammates, Andrew Walter made his way off the practice field for the last time, having been given his freedom.
He had just received the news he had been hoping for and was looking forward to a “good vibe’’ and new employer.
“I’m very excited for a fresh start,’’ Walter said. “We’ll see what happens. The only thing different that I would have hoped for is that it would have happened earlier. Things haven’t changed since February and it occurred just now. The timing is something I can’t control.’’
The Raiders gave permission Walter to seek a trade in the offseason, but with clubs knowing to a reasonable certainty he would be cut eventually, there were no takers. Walter, the one-time quarterback of the future whose Raiders career will forever be linked to Tom Walsh, Art Shell and the “Bed and Breakfast’’ offense, should get a shot somewhere.
Seattle, where Greg Knapp is the offensive coordinator, is a possibility. So is Denver, where Josh McDaniels isn’t as much of a stickler for mobile quarterbacks as Mike Shanahan was.
– Guard Paul McQuistan, who had offseason knee surgery, sat out the second practice, as did fullback Oren O’Neal. Derrick Burgess remained a no-show.
Chris Morris worked with the first team at left guard, followed by Mark Wilson.
– Tommy Kelly left briefly to have his ankle worked on, but returned to practice and didn’t jump offsides.
– Cable made a point after the morning session to that it didn’t matter much until Monday who worked with the first and second teams.
Still, it was at least mildly interesting that Stanford Routt got more work with the first team defense than did Chris Johnson, who signed the stealth off-season contract with a $4 million signing bonus.
– There isn’t much time before the whistle to make a play, but on one snap Jon Alston knifed through and got his hands on Darren McFadden on a sweep to the left.
– Details continued to be a priority, with defensive coordinator John Marshall reminding Gerard Warren about where he lined up, “Don’t get in there too tight, Gerard,’’ Marshall said.
– The run defense isn’t the only area where the Raiders plan to tighten things up. The media is now restricted to a 30-yard box on each field. Instead of being able to walk from field to field around an end zone, as in past years, a Raiders employee must lead the way.
I’ll refrain from calling it an “escort service.’’
Makes for an almost impossible view in some cases when the team is near the 50-yard line and players are in the way.
At one point, the guide was forced to stop near a stack of pads used for drills. When two reporters sat down for a moment, the cell phone of the security guard rang almost instantly.
“You have to get up,’’ he said somewhat reluctantly.
– The Raiders became the sixth team to get all their draft picks signed, joining Baltimore, Chicago, the New York Jets, Pittsburgh and Atlanta.
The Bears had no first-round pick and the Jets just three picks overall.