Indianapolis, IN- When the Indianapolis Colts take to the field Sunday, wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey will be playing against a familiar foe. The Colts host the Oakland Raiders in Week 1 to kick off the 2013 NFL regular season in Lucas Oil Stadium.
For Heyward-Bey it will be a matchup of trying to prove his worth.
The 6-foot-2, 219-pound receiver played his first four NFL seasons for Oakland. After last year the Raiders decided to part ways with the former No. 7 overall pick in the 2009 draft basically calling him a bust.
The Colts swept in to pick up the speedster this offseason and expect him to make a huge difference in not just this game but this season as a whole.
“You could, but the guy has been unbelievable since he’s been here,” said head coach Chuck Pagano on Heyward-Bey. “He hasn’t said a word. He’s just been here every single day. And every time he walks through that door, he’s got the right mindset as far as preparation, work ethic. From the offseason until now, he’s done nothing but just grind. You could see him take off up at training camp, his play. A few days where it was kind of bumpy, but then he just started trending in the right direction. He’s got, when you talk to him, he loved his experience out there. He’d be the first one to tell you and how appreciative he is of the late Mr. Davis for taking him where they took him and what they did for him. He’s a smart guy. I don’t feel like I have to sit him down and say, we don’t want anybody giving any bulletin board material. There’s enough incentive for them coming in. They’re going to play hard anyway. We don’t need to give them any extra.”
Heyward-Bey only played 11 games in his rookie season then 15 games the last three. He had 140 receptions for 2,071 yards and 11 touchdowns during his tenure with Oakland.
“It was a good experience,” said Heyward-Bey on his time in Oakland. “We had a lot of good times and we had some difficult times. I had a lot of great teammates, great coaches. I learned a lot over there.”
He isn’t over-hyping this game either treating it like any other game.
“No, just Week 1, just another game. The season is about to start, so it’s special for the NFL, but it’s just another week. I just prepare the same way for the opponent. I understand it’s a team I used to play for. I’m still friends with a lot of those guys. But other than that, I’m just preparing like I always prepare.”
Eric Smith is the Colts Beat Writer for Rant Sports. He’s covered the team the last four years and is recognized as an accredited member of the media by the team. Follow him on Twitter @Ericsportsguru