Top news of the week: First-round draft pick Darrius Heyward-Bey missed the Raiders' very first camp practice while the final details of his contract were ironed out. Once arriving, the rookie wide receiver raised more eyebrows than he did expectations, dropping more than a half dozen passes in two days. On the team's second official day of full-scale workouts, DHB rebounded nicely and hauled in several throws, including a one-hander.
Wagaman's take: It's still too early to get overly concerned, but the fact that Heyward-Bey had problems catching the ball in the minicamps and OTAs made his early struggles in camp see like a trend. It was good to see him come back the way he did and he had a noticeable different stride the more success he had. Still, he has to prove he can do it on a consistent basis. The Raiders haven't gotten much out of either of the previous two first-round draft picks – JaMarcus Russell and Darren McFadden – during their rookie seasons so the pressure is on DHB to end that streak.
Also on the burner: The continued holdout of two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Derrick Burgess has been a dark cloud on what has otherwise been a fairly smooth start to camp. Burgess is apparently trying to force a trade but just where the Raiders stand is anyone's guess since head coach Tom Cable has refused to discuss the situation beyond updating Burgess' absence. With Burgess out, offseason acquisition Greg Ellis has taken the majority of reps with the starters, with Jay Richardson also getting time over there.
Wagaman's take: The Raiders don't seem overly concerned about Burgess not being in camp and are moving forward as if he won't be with the team so it's not like his being gone has really been a setback or distraction. While Burgess would like to play elsewhere, it's very realistic Al Davis won't budge, will eat the $2 million and change No. 56 is due this year and be content to have Burgess on the bench. The Raiders could recoup some of that money by fining Burgess – again, Cable has declined to discuss it. But this wouldn't be the first time Al paid a player a lot of money to sit on the bench. Just ask Marcus Allen and Steve Beuerlein.
Best development: Mario Henderson appears ready to pick up where he left off last year after he replaced Kwame Harris as the starting left tackle. Working exclusively with the starting offense, Henderson has dominated in one-on-one matchups and in team drills. He's moving more easily this year, is using his hands extremely well to keep defenders off and has a better center of gravity which allows Henderson to use his big frame to his advantage.
Wagaman's take: Hard to believe this was the guy who two years ago admitted he was nowhere near ready to play in the NFL at that point. Henderson has really looked strong, which bodes well for QB JaMarcus Russell. With Khalif Barnes out 4-6 weeks after injuring his knee and ankle, Henderson will be the starting left tackle when the regular season begins.
Worst development: Backup quarterback Jeff Garcia suffered a strained calf, the same one that bothered him and forced him to miss time last season. Garcia missed the first few days of full-scale workouts but the injury doesn't appear serious at this time.
Wagaman's take: If it were Russell or one of the other QBs in camp, this might be a concern but Garcia has been around long enough that he can afford to miss a few days. If the issue lingers then there might be a bigger worry but for now, it's not much to lose sleep over.
Camp superstar: Nick Miller is without doubt the smallest wide receiver in camp but the Southern Utah product managed to stand out more than the rest with his energy and enthusiasm, not to mention catching just about everything thrown his way. He made two of the most impressive catches in camp, both of them of them over-the-shoulder variety, and was also getting work as the backup punt returner and kickoff returner.
Wagaman's take: OK, so it's the first week and I've always said it's dangerous to put too much stock into what happens this early in camp. But there's something about Miller that stands out differently. Maybe it's because he's an undrafted free agent who is playing his tail off trying to get a roster spot. Maybe it's because he shows no fear going up for the ball, no matter how many defenders are around. Whatever the case, he's definitely a kid worth keeping an eye on.
Worth noting: Kirk Morrison, the team's leading tackler the past three seasons, has been splitting time with Ricky Brown on the first defense. At times Morrison has been relegated to second-team work while Brown ran with the starters.
Wagaman's take: There were whispers early in the offseason that Oakland might be contemplating making a change and it's clear the brass is at least entertaining the idea. They're both very similar players, though Brown is definitely a more vocal, in-your-face player than Morrison is. Way, way too early to make a call here but this could be the best battle of camp.
On the mend: The biggest injury news came when Barnes injured his knee. The injury will sideline him the rest of camp and his absence easily could extend into the regular season. Wide receiver Javon Walker, on the other hand, has been working extremely hard on the sidelines while rehabbing from his offseason knee surgery. Left guard Robert Gallery only recently started doing some light workouts with a trainer after undergoing an emergency appendectomy. Fullback Oren O'Neal is being limited to one practice a day while coming back from a serious knee injury. A host of other players had minor scrapes and bruises.
Wagaman's take: The loss of Barnes hurts because the Raiders were looking at possibly moving he or Henderson to the right tackle spot. Walker's progress is promising, as is Gallery's. The best news came from O'Neal, whose career was thought to be in jeopardy 11 months ago.
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