By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Friday, January 1st, 2010 at 12:56 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Sounds as if we might have seen the last of wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey for the season.
Raiders coach Tom Cable said Friday a tape of Heyward-Bey’s practice performance would be evaluated to see if he is ready to play in the season finale against the Baltimore Ravens. Heyward-Bey has been out the last four games with a foot strain.
“We’re not sure he’s ready, so we’ll evaluate it, look at it on tape, the little bit he did today,” Cable said. “If he was ready to go and all that I think it would be valuable, but if he’s not, it wouldn’t be right to do it.”
If Heyward-Bey does not play, he’ll finish the season with nine receptions for 124 yards and one touchdown as the No. 7 overall pick in the draft. Not exactly what the Raiders had in mind when Heyward-Bey arrived in training camp, with Cable saying his speed was already making a difference in terms of clearing out areas for other receivers.
It’s probably just as well that Heyward-Bey not play. He was struggling when starting every week. After four weeks off, the last thing he needs is the sound of thunderous boos chasing him into the offseason after a dropped pass. Better to work at his game in the offseason and come back a better player in Year 2.
Heyward-Bey’s first season has only been slightly more depressing than that of Darren McFadden, who will get ample time Sunday against one of the NFL’s toughest run defenses to live up to his status as the No. 4 overall pick in the 2008 draft.
You want to see what the Raiders had hoped for McFadden, look on the opposite sideline at Ray Rice, taken 52 selections after McFadden by the Ravens in the second round. The former Rutgers star, downgraded slightly because he’s 5-foot-8, has the sort of stats which had been forecast for McFadden as a runner-receiver _ 1,269 yards rushing, a 5.3 yards per carry average and a team-leading 74 receptions for 683 yards.
“He’s complete, runs it tough, great, great vision, good acceleration, catches it extremely well,” Cable said. “The thing that jumps out at you that kind of shocks you a little bit is how good a blocker he is. A very complete back.”
Asked if Rice’s production and use is a best-case model for McFadden, Cable said, “You hope so, absolutely. I think that because they do so much with him, that really fits the mold of what we’d like to get to with Darren.”
In other injury-related matters, strong safety Tyvon Branch (hip flexor) was limited in practice and listed as questionable, although Cable’s gut feeling is that he will start. Cornerback Chris Johnson (hamstring) missed practice again, was listed as questionable, and Cable said he was getting better.
Running back Justin Fargas (knee) and left guard Langston Walker did not practice and were doubtful. Defensive end Greg Ellis (knee) didn’t practice and is questionable but will probably start. Quarterback Bruce Gradkowski (knees) is out. Defensive tackle Gerard Warren (shoulders) practiced in full and will start.
More to come . . .