During free agency, Colts owner Jim Irsay generated intrigue via a series of tweets suggesting that the team was targeting a big-name receiver. It turned out to be Darrius Heyward-Bey, a top-10 draft pick who never really lived up to his potential and hype in Oakland.
That could be changing. Heyward-Bey is drawing strong reviews in Indy, despite reportedly having five drops in his first two days of Colts camp.
“He had two back-to-back really good days,” coach Chuck Pagano told reporters on Thursday, “so I think like anything else, you make a catch here, you make a catch there and yesterday opened with a big play and so I think from there he is just starting to obviously feel more comfortable in the offense terminology-wise, all the play calls, things like that and then he’s making plays whether it is big plays down the field, underneath, so I think from a confidence standpoint, a mental standpoint he is just getting more comfortable and obviously the chemistry is starting to grow between him and [Andrew] Luck.”
Heyward-Bey made six catches in practice on Thursday, and quarterback Andrew Luck says repetition is the key to getting the level of comfort necessary between himself and Heyward-Bey.
“You can throw in the summer and no one’s covering and those are important, too, but the more reps you can get in team and seven-on-sevens and one-on-ones, I think it’s just so vital to an offensive timing and rhythm and I think DHB with Reggie [Wayne] and T.Y [Hilton] knowing those guys for a year now, it’s been fun to get to go out and throw with them and really take that next step with those guys and hopefully keep on progressing with the wide receivers and all of them,” Luck said.
Heyward-Bey seemed to be on the verge of a breakout after gaining 975 receiving yards in 2011, his third NFL season. Last year, however, his catches and yards dipped significantly, and the Raiders opted to get out from under the final portion of the pre-rookie wage scale contract he received as the seventh overall pick in 2009.
With Wayne, Hilton, and tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen, Heyward-Bey gives the Colts a potent group of pass catches for Luck. While Indy may still have a way to go to duplicate the days of Marvin Harrison, Wayne, Dallas Clark, and Marcus Pollard, having Luck throw the new guys the ball could help the new guys be viewed in the same light as the old guys.