If Darrius Heyward-Bey really wants to get anywhere in this business, he'll have to learn to say "I told you so."

Playing a position so often associated with temper tantrums, complaints about being underutilized and being quick to get right back in the face of a critic, Heyward-Bey is an anomaly.

The Raiders had beaten the Seattle Seahawks 33-3 on Sunday, and Heyward-Bey had caught five passes for 105 yards, including his first-ever deep strike -- a 69-yard touchdown reception -- from Jason Campbell.

In the first quarter, Heyward-Bey ran 30 yards with a reverse to set up a 31-yard Sebastian Janikowski field goal. In the second half, Heyward-Bey even spun gold with one of his mishaps, as a low Campbell pass ricocheted off his knee and directly to Michael Bush, who turned it into a 55-yard gain.

So Heyward-Bey was approached in front of his locker and asked if he had anything he'd like to say to anyone who doubted him.

He gave a sheepish smile, then mockingly extended his arms outward and said, "Me!" Heyward-Bey may not be much of a self-promoter, but his sense of irony is on point. He is as far from a "me first" guy as it gets.

"My approach was the same as it was every week," Heyward-Bey said. "Do my job, and if the ball comes my way, make a play."

He may have a lot more games like this, or maybe just a few. Probably the only certainty is that Heyward-Bey won't appear overly impressed if he does, or tremendously hurt if he doesn't.


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It's been pointed out that Heyward-Bey, the No. 7 overall pick in 2009, has been less productive then all the first-round receivers taken after him. And that he had fewer catches and yards than even the two first-round picks who went a year later.

In the age of the Internet, his dropped passes were counted and cataloged during training camp, a relatively new phenomenon pushed forth by the age of blogging.

Combined with his struggles during games, a difficult rookie season and an embarrassing club news release comparing him to all the great receivers ever associated with Al Davis, Heyward-Bey would seemingly be carrying a huge burden of expectations.

Yet he has never been snappish or rude, as if he is blithely unaware of what has been said or written.

"I've never seen him upset," fullback Marcel Reece said. "Darrius hasn't blinked. You see sparks where he can be great one day. Louis Murphy went down, and Darrius stepped up. We're all excited for him. He has so many tools, and we're looking forward to seeing him use them all."

Last week, with the Raiders putting an unprecedented 59-14 beating on the Broncos in Denver, Heyward-Bey was rendered a non-factor because of illness, watching most of the game from the locker room.

When Murphy went out with a bruised lung suffered late in the Denver game and was declared out during the week, coach Tom Cable told the media that the Raiders needed more from Heyward-Bey, without ever telling him directly.

"I really didn't think I needed to," Cable said. "I probably got the message out through you guys, and he really responded like you'd expect him to. I didn't think it was necessary to put more pressure on him."

Campbell, on the other hand, spoke with Heyward-Bey, telling him, 'Hey, today is your opportunity.'

Campbell and Heyward-Bey possess similar personalities. Neither is boastful or outwardly confident, at times giving the impression that they're not assertive enough in the most aggressive culture in professional sports.

"You would never know anything is wrong with him because he doesn't show his emotions," Campbell said. "He keeps everything within and if you talk to him you know where he's coming from."

Campbell's advice?

"You're just in your second year. You've got a lot of growth. Don't listen to all the things being said. That's the worst thing you can do, because if you do, you'll beat yourself up even more."

If Heyward-Bey has been bothered by anything, he's not copping to it. He had a chance to make a jumping catch in the first half only to have the ball knocked loose. No reaction.

He wants the ball as much as anyone else but doesn't see the sense in mounting a campaign.

"If I could get the ball every down, that would be great," Heyward-Bey said. "My job is to make plays when opportunities come. I had a situation in the first half where I pulled it down and the DB made a great play, punched it out a little bit. That's how the season's been for me. A little bit here, a little bit there. Just try and stay consistent."

Contact Jerry McDonald at jmcdonald@bayareanewsgroup.com.