Milestone in reach for Heyward-Bey


Milestone in reach for Heyward-Bey

ALAMEDA -- There's no doubt Darrius Heyward-Bey has made a big jump in this, his third season in the NFL.But the much-maligned receiver has bigger goals. Much bigger goals."That's why I come to work every day, to try to reach my goal of being the best player in the league," Heyward-Bey said. "That's how high the standards are."With 51 catches for 775 yards and three touchdowns, Heyward-Bey has already set single-season highs for himself. Consider: as a rookie, he caught nine passes for 124 yards and one TD. Last season, he had 26 receptions for 366 yards and a TD.
Now, he is on pace for 58 catches for 885 yards and has an outside shot at becoming the first Raiders receiver since Randy Moss in 2005 to have a 1,000-yard receiving season. Moss finished that year with 1,005 receiving yards."I just look at it as doing what I had to do in the offseason," Heyward-Bey said of his statistical leap. "Didn't practice much during camp, but when I got a chance to get going, I had to focus."Heyward-Bey was slowed in training camp by an undisclosed injury and was carted off the field at Minnesota on Nov. 20 after taking a scary looking blow to the back of the head that popped his helmet off.But Sunday against Detroit, he had a career day with eight catches for 155 yards. Still, it was overshadowed by the Raiders' 28-27 loss and a Heyward-Bey fumble inside the Lions' 10-yard line in the third quarter."I don't care what critics say," he said. "All I care about is me and my teammates and my coaches. That's all I care about."His drops, though, have also decreased.According to STATS Inc., Heyward-Bey had nine drops in 105 targets his first two seasons combined. This season, he's had five drops in 91 targets."You know, he looks more confident in himself and in his hands," Kansas City cornerback Brandon Flowers said in a conference call with Bay Area reporters Wednesday morning. "Before, it was like he was trying to do too much, he was trying to concentrate too hard when he was catching the ball, instead of just relaxing and playing like he did in college, when he was making all types of plays."But I feel like the game slowed down for him. He gets very relaxed out there and he's growing into his own as an NFL receiver."When Al Davis used the No. 7 overall pick on him in the 2008 draft, Heyward-Bey was compared to Moss by the Raiders, a pure deep threat. But he has found his niche of late catching intermediate passes and breaking tackles."He's not just that guy that can run vertical," Flowers said. "A lot of teams are cautious because of his speed, they give him a lot of cushion for him to break those underneath routes and let him break tackles. He's a strong guy so he's definitely going to break tackles if you don't come with any type of force. He's becoming a well-polished receiver in this league."One that still has the occasional case of the yips."You have your up-and-down days as a human being in general," Heyward-Bey said. "For me, I've been keeping it steady for the most part. The only time I've ever not had confidence was my sophomore year in high school when I didn't make varsity. Other than that, I really don't care. I just go out there and play ball."

Report: Former Raiders RB arrested for domestic violence


Report: Former Raiders RB arrested for domestic violence

Trent Richardson is reportedly in some trouble.

Richardson was arrested on Thursday night for domestic violence, according to TMZ Sports.

The former running back was taken into custody on a third degree charge, the report states, with bail being set for $1,000.

The arrest was made in Hoover, Alabama.

The Browns selected Richardson with the third overall pick in the 2012 draft.

He was traded to the Colts in 2013 and played for Indianapolis in 2014.

He signed with the Raiders in 2015 and appeared in three exhibition games, but did not make the team.

The 26-year old was cut by the Ravens last August.

Downing: Carr will have increased influence on Raiders game plan

Downing: Carr will have increased influence on Raiders game plan

Derek Carr and Todd Downing are tight. A strong friendship was forged between the Raiders’ franchise quarterback and his position coach these past two seasons, one that should help the Raiders now that Downing will call plays.

The Raiders new offensive coordinator will use his young signal caller as a resource formulating a game plan. Carr has a bright offensive mind – he called his own plays in high school and in college at times – and Downing plans to use it to put his quarterback in positions to succeed.

Carr’s influence in preparation will expand over previous seasons under coordinator Bill Musgrave.

“Where I see him needing a little bit more command is just being able to share his thoughts of game plans,” Downing said Wednesday in a conference call. “Being a student of the game, as he already is, but vocalize what he likes and doesn’t like. I think my relationship with him is something that’s going to give him the opportunity to voice his opinions. I look forward to him really taking charge of expressing his thoughts on the offense.”

Carr has always had freedom to adjust at the line of scrimmage, but that could increase with Downing in charge. Derek Carr’s brother Davis Carr told 95.7 The Game as much a few weeks ago, a topic Downing addressed on Wednesday.

“There’s been a lot made about his command at the line of scrimmage,” Downing said. “There’s certainly going to be opportunities for Derek to do that. That’s not something I feel we’ll even have to get into until we’re much further into this offseason and into training camp.”

Downing had opportunities to interview with other teams this offseason, but head coach Jack Del Rio wanted to pair Downing and Carr together. The young duo have similar personalities and a strong working relationship based on a love of the game.

“My relationship with Derek starts there,” Downing said in Wednesday interview on 95.7-FM. “We both love coming to work each day and respect the heck out of each other. When you have that kind of relationship with any coach, you’re taking a step in the right direction. Derek’s the leader of our franchise. In my opinion, he’s the best young quarterback in football. We’re fortunate to have him. Why wouldn’t I be in a good mood every time I am around him?”

Carr made great progress working with Downing the past two years, and was an MVP candidate in 2016. Downing sees continued room for growth and refinement as next season approaches.

“I think Derek made big strides in 2016, just in terms of his command of the offense, being the field general, being able to get through progressions more efficiently,” Downing said. “His footwork took big strides. I certainly want him to remain focused on all of those attributes. You don’t want to feel like you’ve arrived in a certain area of your game and then have it go backwards when the next season starts. Certainly, I want him focused on all of those.”