The Herald Bulletin

March 25, 2013

Former Raiders WR to visit Colts

By George Bremer
The Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON, Ind. — He might not be the “whopper” owner Jim Irsay teased on Twitter a couple of weeks ago, but former Oakland Raiders wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey soon could join the Indianapolis Colts.

A post on the team’s website confirmed Heyward-Bey — who was released by Oakland on March 13 — was scheduled to visit Indianapolis on Monday night and Tuesday morning. There was no official confirmation the fifth-year wide receiver had arrived.

Irsay stirred interest from fans and media alike with a series of tweets late in the evening of March 16 and early morning of March 17 suggesting the Colts were close to completing a deal for a wide receiver. The player’s name never was revealed, and talk of the transaction Irsay referred to as a “whopper” died down after Indianapolis signed backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin last week.

It appears the mystery target got off the hook, and the Colts turned to Plan B.

Heyward-Bey ran a 4.3-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine in 2009 and was scooped up with the seventh overall pick by the Raiders in that April’s draft. In four seasons with Oakland, the 6-foot-2, 205-pound receiver had 140 catches for 2,071 yards and 11 touchdowns. His 14.8 yards per reception average ranks 23rd among active players, but Heyward-Bey also carries a reputation for drops.

He has played with a host of journeyman quarterbacks — including JaMarcus Russell, Bruce Gradkowski, Jason Campbell and Carson Palmer — and in several different offensive schemes with the Raiders.

Heyward-Bey appeared to have a breakout season in 2011 with 64 catches for 975 yards and four touchdowns, but his production dipped to 41 receptions with 606 yards and five scores in 2012.

Heyward-Bey would be a candidate to replace Donnie Avery, the Colts’ second-leading receiver with 60 catches for 781 yards and three touchdowns in 2012 who signed as a free agent with the Kansas City Chiefs. Indianapolis also could use its first-round selection — No. 24 overall — on a wide receiver in April’s draft.

The Colts have done well as closers this offseason, signing safety LaRon Landry, defensive tackle Ricky Jean-Francois and Franklin during official visits earlier this month.