The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Pro Sports

April 2, 2013

Free agent WR follows heart to Indy

ANDERSON, Ind. — Darrius Heyward-Bey said he’s trusted his heart in tough spots before.

So when it was time to make the biggest decision of his NFL career thus far, the former Oakland Raiders wide receiver decided to go with his heart again.

It led the 26-year-old free agent away from the Detroit Lions and into the arms of the Indianapolis Colts, who are coming off an 11-5 season and an AFC Wild Card playoff appearance.

In four seasons with the Raiders, Heyward-Bey never finished better than 8-8.

“At the end, I just had to follow my heart,” he said during a conference call with local media Tuesday, “and I just felt comfortable there.”

Part of that comfort level was induced by the presence of second-year quarterback Andrew Luck. The former Stanford star started all 16 games for the Colts and threw for 4,374 yards and 23 touchdowns last season, finishing as runner-up for NFL Rookie of the Year honors to Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III.

Luck’s consistency under center is appealing to Heyward-Bey who played for three head coaches, four offensive coordinators and seven quarterbacks in Oakland.

“It’s a confidence thing,” Heyward-Bey said. “You know that this guy is going to be your quarterback. There’s no question about that. In Oakland, there were times when we weren’t sure going into a week and we had to adjust on the fly. Knowing that Andrew is going to be back there feels good.”

Heyward-Bey was the seventh overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft coming out of Maryland. He went that high in part because late Raiders owner Al Davis was enamored with the 4.3-second 40-yard dash the receiver ran at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Despite combining his speed with a 6-foot-2 frame, Heyward-Bey never really lived up to expectations in Oakland. He caught 64 passes for 975 yards and four touchdowns in 2011 but had just 140 receptions for 2,071 yards and 11 scores overall.

Heyward-Bey said he picks out one area of his game to improve each offseason and strives to become a complete wide receiver.

“Last year it was run after catch, and actually some of my touchdowns were run after catch,” he said. “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.”

There have been some questions about what kind of fit the speedy vertical threat will be for new Indianapolis offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton’s West Coast-based scheme. No less an authority than former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana — who won four Super Bowls and played under the offense’s originator, Bill Walsh — weighed in on his verified Twitter account.

“Raiders WR Darrius Heyward-Bey is going to be a big weapon for Luck and the Colts,” Montana wrote.

Heyward-Bey agreed to a one-year deal worth up to $3 million with a $1.5 million guarantee. He could have chosen instead to join the Lions’ high-powered offense with quarterback Matthew Stafford, wide receiver Calvin Johnson and offseason addition running back Reggie Bush.

But he said he wants to be part of something special in Indianapolis.

“Well, if you look at the roster, you have Andrew Luck, in my opinion the best young quarterback out there,” Heyward-Bey said. “You’ve got a veteran in Reggie Wayne. You have a former teammate of 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.”

1
Text Only
Pro Sports
  • Judge OKs record-setting $2 billion sale of Clippers

    Embattled Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling lost his attempt to block the $2 billion sale of the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

    July 28, 2014

  • SPT - HB0729 - Chris Rainey - DK Colts release RB Rainey

    Just two days after earning praise for his playmaking ability from head coach Chuck Pagano, running back Chris Rainey was waived by the Indianapolis Colts on Monday morning. The news was broken in a press release around 8:30 a.m. and later confirmed by Pagano during an afternoon session with the media.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT - HB0729 - Andrew Luck - JC 1 Luck still learning

    Wind chill estimates put the temperature at 59 degrees Monday morning at Anderson University. During one stretch of his fifth training camp practice of the year, however, it likely felt much colder to Andrew Luck.

    July 28, 2014 3 Photos

  • SPT - HB0728 - Colts Camp - Castonzo 2 - 278 Castonzo comfortable with Colts' changing O-line

    For all the changes along the offensive line the past three seasons, Anthony Castonzo has been the lone constant. He joined a veteran group anchored by center Jeff Saturday in 2011, was part of a remodeled unit in 2012 and became a mainstay at left tackle for all 16 games last year.

    July 28, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPT - HB0728 - Colts Camp - Allen 1 - 290 Colts' offense adapting to new arsenal

    Third-year tight end Dwayne Allen suffered a season-opening hip injury in Week 1 against the Oakland Raiders, then watched as left guard Donald Thomas, running backs Vick Ballard and Ahmad Bradshaw and wide receiver Reggie Wayne also exited the lineup over the next six weeks. It left offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton scrambling to come up with new ways to attack defenses with an ever-changing cast of characters.

    July 27, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPT-HB0727-Luckwatch-ColtsCamp-094.jpg Colts Quick Hits: Sunday, July 27

    Notes,news and fun facts from Colts Training Camp at Anderson University.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT-HB0727-AndrewLuck3749.jpg Change the Play

    Andrew Luck had an active childhood filled with a myriad of sports and activities. Now, he wants Hoosier kids to have that opportunity, too.

    July 27, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPT - HB0727 - RBs - Colts Camp - 141 Colts have options in Ballard's absence

    Chuck Pagano delivered the news Saturday afternoon in a solemn tone, confirming running back Vick Ballard will miss the 2014 season. "It's a part of the game. It's an ugly part of the game," the Indianapolis Colts head coach said shortly after revealing an MRI on Friday night found a torn Achilles tendon in Ballard's left foot. "It's a tough pill to swallow. You never want to lose anybody."

    July 26, 2014 4 Photos

  • Super Bowl MVP Warner has high praise for Luck

    It's no secret the NFL's version of football has become a quarterback's game. Kurt Warner is one of the men who helped make it that way. And he had plenty of praise for the man many see as the future at the quarterback position, third-year rising star Andrew Luck.

    July 26, 2014

  • luck watch.jpg Colts Quick Hits: Saturday, July 26

    Notes,news and fun facts from Colts Training Camp at Anderson University.
     

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo