INDIANAPOLIS — And when Wayne was later asked whether it would be tough for his new teammate to shed the reputation he had in Oakland, Wayne fired back.
“Not if you catch the ball and do something with it. That reputation is coming from what, when he played with the Raiders? Well he’s not with the Raiders anymore,” Wayne said. “So hopefully this is a new bed for him to lay in. He can come here, catch the ball and then all the Raider Nation fans can say whatever they want, Colts Nation is going to have something different to say. We’re all behind him.”
Including general manager Ryan Grigson, who took a similar tack last season.
Back then, the Colts rolled the dice on receiver Donnie Avery, cornerback Darius Butler and cornerback Vontae Davis. Each was a first or second-round pick who failed to pan out in previous stops, and each started at least five games last season. All became major contributors in the Colts turnaround, and this year Davis and Butler are back while Heyward-Bey was brought in to take Avery’s spot.
All he has to do now is produce.
Early in camp, Heyward-Bey was struggling to catch the ball. But his confidence increased, his numbers improved and he wound up ahead of Hilton, a budding star, on the Colts’ depth chart as he prepares to face his old team. Heyward-Bey insists there are no hard feelings about what happened in Oakland, saying there isn’t much difference between the two locker rooms.
Raiders coach Dennis Allen has no complaints, either.
“Listen, when Darrius Heyward-Bey was here, he did everything that we asked him to do. He was a great worker,” Allen said. “I’ve got nothing but good things to say about Darrius Heyward-Bey. I think he’s a good football player. I think he’s an excellent person. I think he’s a great teammate.”
And now he’s got a second chance in the NFL, this time in a place where he seems to be getting comfortable.
“I feel good here. Everybody has welcomed me with open arms,” Heyward-Bey said. “I just keep working on my game. I’m definitely getting better.”