Lack of reps no surprise to DHB

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Lack of reps no surprise to DHB

SAN DIEGO -- So, was Darrius Heyward-Bey surprised at his relative lack of playing time against Denver on Sunday?"No," he said Wednesday afternoon in his first public comments since the game. "That's the way the gameplan went. I wish we would have won; that's the most important thing. But other than that, no."And there you have it, Heyward-Bey echoing coach Hue Jackson's reasoning of earlier in the week that the receiver was simply not in certain personnel packages as the game unfolded. Except, it is curious how rarely he was targeted by quarterback Carson Palmer, who was making his first career start with the Raiders.
Heyward-Bey was targeted exactly once, and did not come down with the catch in being shut out. This after being targeted 11, nine and 12 times in the Raiders' previous three games, and emerging with five, six and seven receptions, respectively.Obviously, he hopes to be utilized more against San Diego Thursday night."Hopefully, you know, each and every week I prepare to play and play good and make plays," he said. "So I do the same thing each and every week, go out there and prepare the best way I can."The Raiders' purported biggest weakness in its receiving corps is also its greatest strength -- that there is no true No. 1 receiver and thus, no diva in the group. Still, Heyward-Bey had ben playing as a No. 1 receiver in his third season after two underwhelming campaigns.With 27 catches for 434 yards, he has already set a single-season high marks for himself.Last weekend, though, Denarius Moore was targeted 12 times, finishing with four catches for 61 yards, and Jacoby Ford had five catches for 105 yards. Chaz Schilens, Louis Murphy and the recently-signed T.J. Houshmandzadeh round out the Raiders receivers."In our room, we love the fact that we're all good, we feel like we're all starters in this league and we can make plays," Heyward-Bey said. "That's the good thing about our group -- we want everybody to succeed and we know everybody brings something to the table."

Donald Penn: Raiders players trust McKenzie will add right pieces

Donald Penn: Raiders players trust McKenzie will add right pieces

The Raiders were pretty darn good last season. A 12-4 record proved that point. There was plenty of talent on a team with a penchant for high-wire acts in victory that masked the fact there were holes on the roster.

They need to be filled for the Raiders to improve in 2017, and new players will be imported through free agency and the draft.

Left tackle Donald Penn is excited to see who gets added, but said there’s no doubt talent is coming to Oakland. He speaks for Raiders players, who have faith that general manager Reggie McKenzie will make the right moves.

“Things that Reggie has done in past drafts have been great, and we’re looking forward to seeing what he brings back towards us,” Penn said recently during an in-studio appearance on NFL Network. “We can’t wait to get back out there healthy. We’re ready to hit the football world with a storm.”

While new guys are coming, a few might head out. The Raiders have several unrestricted free agents. Penn wants to keep his guys around – he mentioned running back Latavius Murray by name -- though he has some ideas for McKenzie’s checklist.

The Raiders don’t need much with most key players under contract – the Raiders should be less active in free agency over past offseasons – but a few key components could put this team over the top.

“If we stick to Reggie’s plan, we’ll be great,” Penn said. “I know he’s going to have a great draft, add a couple little pieces here and there – maybe somebody in the secondary to help out a little bit.

"On offense, you could always use a weapon. Maybe we get another receiver to take (pressure off Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper), but we have a good nucleus right now.”

Raiders LT Donald Penn: QB Derek Carr 'almost 100 percent'

Raiders LT Donald Penn: QB Derek Carr 'almost 100 percent'

Derek Carr is on the mend. The Raiders franchise quarterback had surgery to repair his fibula shortly after he broke it in a Week 16 victory over Indianapolis, and is recovering well during the offseason.

Carr insisted on intense rehab this winter in an attempt – however unlikely it may have been – to return should the Raiders have played in the Super Bowl. It slowed to a normal pace after the Raiders' loss at Houston in the postseason’s opening round, but those in contact with him say he’s making strides.

Left tackle Donald Penn was recently in contact with Carr, and provided an update on Monday during an in-studio appearance on NFL Network.

“I texted Derek (a few) days ago checking in,” Penn said, “and he said he’s almost 100 percent.”

Surgically-repaired broken filbulas take significant time to heal, and the Raiders plan to be conservative with their MVP candidate during the offseason. Derek Carr’s brother and NFL Network analyst David Carr, who was on set with Penn on Monday, said Derek could be back for offseason work.

“He’s doing good,” David Carr said. “He’s walking around already, stretching it out. You can’t do a lot for the bone, right? But he’s going to be back. He’s going to get a whole full offseason in. That’s going to be the best part.”