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Heyward-Bey Gets A Rough Initiation

He finished the weekend by skipping practice, as he nursed a sore hamstring. At one point before the muscle revolted, he dropped three straight passes. But rookie receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey likely got the biggest splash of cold water in eyes that at some point could be blamed for his lack of production during his first snap against an NFL cornerback. Nnamdi Asomugha. Heyward-Bey did everything he was supposed to do. And Asomugha was in place to prevent him from catching the ball. “I came back,"and I just went, ‘All right, I’m not in college anymore,’” Heyward-Bey said, according to Steve Corkran of the Contra Costa Times. And since Heyward-Bey could generate only 600 yards and change “in college” last season, that’s not an encouraging observation for Raiders fans. Many teams have rookies practice only against other first-year players at their initial camp, preventing such “welcome to the next level, bitch” moments for guys who already are feeling nervous about their new jobs. The challenge for each team is to decide whether to give the incoming players a chance to build confidence by competing against each other, or to throw them into the fray. On one hand, it’s a good way to begin the process of smoking out a bust. On the other hand, it’s a good way to begin the process of smoking out a bust. Of any first-round pick who doesn’t play quarterback for the Detroit Lions, no rookie will be more scrutinized than Heyward-Bey. He was the first receiver taken in the draft, ahead of Michael Crabtree, Jeremy Maclin, Percy Harvin, Hakeem Nicks, and Kenny Britt. With Crabtree playing for the nearby 49ers, it’s safe to say that someone in the Bay Area media will be charting every aspect of their respective performances -- catches, yards, touchdowns, and drops -- on a regular basis. No one expects Heyward-Bey to make a first-year impact like Randy Moss did in 1998. But the decision of a team with unconventional methods and a recent history of questionable moves to make Heyward-Bey the seventh overall pick is prompting many to sit back and practice their delivery of the possible epitaph to his career. “I told you so.”