ALAMEDA — Wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey showed few signs of being a rookie during his first two practices as a Raider on Friday. He endured a three-play stretch Saturday that showed even first-round draft picks aren't immune to growing pains.
Heyward-Bey dropped passes on three straight plays, two from quarterback Jeff Garcia sandwiched around one from JaMarcus Russell. All three sailed through his hands.
Raiders coach Tom Cable said such lapses aren't uncommon for rookies exposed to the fast-paced life of the NFL.
"What he got in two days is probably what he got in entire spring football (in college)," Cable said in reference to the volume of plays and formations thrown Heyward-Bey's way since Thursday night. "So there is a lot on his brain. He probably worried a little bit too much about, 'Am I in the right place?'""
Garcia promptly displayed the kind of leadership that endeared him to the Raiders and led to his signing in the offseason.
"I went up to him, and I actually did tell him, 'It's all about a phrase that I've leaned on for my entire career — it's short-term memory. It's STM. It's about learning from what just happened but putting it behind you, don't dwell on it.'""
Garcia said he was impressed by Heyward-Bey's upbeat attitude despite the sudden case of the dropsies. "The kid has tremendous ability, and he has a great attitude," Garcia said.
Russell connected with Heyward-Bey several times Friday and likes what he has seen from the speedster out of Maryland.
"He's going to open a lot of eyes," Russell said Friday. "Like (Friday), you could see he can catch it with his hands. He's going to be pretty good."
Heyward-Bey was held out of the afternoon practice for an undisclosed reason.
"(Cable) will get into it (Sunday)," Raiders executive assistant John Herrera said when asked for an explanation on Heyward-Bey's inactivity.
Henderson vs. Barnes
Third-year player Mario Henderson is working with the first-team offense at left offensive tackle, ahead of free-agent signee Khalif Barnes. For now, anyway.
"There's a young guy that came in with, really, kind of some limited background, and the more he played and the more he grew, it got better," Cable said of Henderson.
Former Raiders coach Lane Kiffin criticized Henderson throughout training camp last year for being so far behind the starting offensive tackles that he couldn't even be considered a potential starter.
A month later, Henderson replaced an injured Kwame Harris at left offensive tackle and held his own. He replaced Harris on a permanent basis late in the season.
"His confidence has really taken off," Cable said.
Barnes is working with the second-team offense during this minicamp. He said it's only logical that Cable would start off with the players who finished as starters last season.
"It's early, and we're all just out here competing, making each other better," Barnes said. "So, we're just going to continue to push and make each other better, and by the time we open this thing up on (Sept.) 14th, we'll see what happens."
Defensive end Derrick Burgess (flu), receivers Javon Walker (knee) and Arman Shields (knee), tight end Zach Miller (groin) and fullback Oren O'Neal (knee) missed practice for the second straight day. Every player on the roster is in attendance for the mandatory minicamp, which concludes today. "... Receivers Samie Parker and Drisan James practiced with the Raiders on a tryout basis. James spent time with the Raiders on their practice squad in 2007. Parker played for the Kansas City Chiefs from 2004-07. "... Passing game coordinator Ted Tollner and defensive coordinator John Marshall are prohibited from speaking with the media during the minicamp. Cable said he prefers to have everything come from his mouth. "... Managing general partner Al Davis attended the Saturday afternoon practice.
— Steve Corkran