Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
The Colts newest receiver met with the media on Tuesday. Darrius Heyward-Bey’s visits to Indianapolis and Detroit were followed by days of speculation. First, people thought the former Oakland receiver could be a lock to sign with the Colts. Then he left town without a contract and headed up to Detroit, leading to speculation that he was unlikely to sign with the Colts.
Heyward-Bey told the Detroit Free Press that he was going to use the flight home to think about what to do next. He also said the usual nice things one says after talking with a potential employer, saying it would be very appealing to play with the Lions, where he already knows quarterback Matthew Stafford. This sparked a new round of speculation, and this time, everyone thought the Detroit Lions had the upper hand.
After that, there was nothing. Now new developments. It was as though he had decided against both offers until Monday, April Fool’s Day, no less, when Jim Irsay announced that the team had finally inked Darrius Heyward-Bey to a contract. “At the end,” Heyward-Bey said, “I just had to follow my heart and I just felt comfortable there.”
This is a new beginning with a more realistic set of expectations for a receiver who wasn’t able to live up to the hype in Oakland. Heyward-Bey will be working to regain his form and improve his game while trying to prove he deserves a longer contract. He will be the second Colts receiver in as many years to do so (We couldn’t possibly forget Donnie Avery). His contract is for $3 million with $1.5 million guaranteed, and USA Today and the Indianapolis Star report that it is full of incentives to get to the full $ 3 million.
“I’ve always been hungry and motivated,” Heyward-Bey said when asked if the one-year contract will drive him to secure a multi-year deal. “One-year deal, 10-year deal, it doesn’t matter. I just try and make plays out there on the field. I don’t look at it that way.” Whether he does or doesn’t, that is the perfect answer.
Heyward-Bey talked a bit about the instability in Oakland and all the changes that went on while he was playing there. “Well, I was there for four years and I had three coaches, four OC’s, seven starting quarterbacks,” he said. “We had good times in Oakland. We went 8-8 at times and two years we went 4-12. I think my rookie year we won five games. We worked hard out there and I definitely got better each and every year. I looked at it as a
success because everybody wants to get better each and every year.”
He stopped short, as any professional should, of saying anything particularly negative about the Raiders organization, even saying Oakland’s late owner, Al Davis, “loved his players and he was a great owner.” Overall, he handled questions about his former team with the kind of politeness that, while not exciting, is exemplary for a pro athlete.
We all know that Heyward-Bey struggled after he was drafted a bit higher than he probably should have been, and we all know any player who just signed with a new team will tend to say nice things about their new and old employer. One thing that stands out, though, is how he went out of his way to be positive about his experience in Oakland, no matter how bad it may have been in actuality.
Heyward-Bey also said he likes what he sees in the Colts offense he will be joining (And who wouldn’t?). “Well if you just look at the roster, you have Andrew Luck, in my opinion the best young quarterback out there,” he said. “You’ve got a veteran in Reggie Wayne. You have a former teammate in mine in Samson (Satele) at the center. They had some young guys make some plays out there so just being a part of something like that, I think it can be great.”
Heyward-Bey also said he wanted to try to play the ball in the air better this year after working to improve at running after the catch last season. “Each and every year, I try to refine all my skills, but I always try to focus on one thing,” he said. “Last year it was run after catch and actually some of my touchdowns were run after catch. So this year I just want to concentrate more on high playing the ball up in the air and getting it into the end zone without running on a run after catch. I’ll still continue to work on that, but high playing the ball is something that I definitely want to improve on.”
While it wasn’t the usual, polished, agent-coached statement, DHB doesn’t have to be a wordsmith to show us all that he wants to keep improving his game. Whatever happens from here on out, that type of attitude should fit right in with Chuck Pagano and the Indianapolis Colts.
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