Originally posted on 60 Max Power O  |  Last updated 8/5/12

As Darrius Heyward-Bey enters his fourth season for the Oakland Raiders, the former first round pick has taken on a leadership role for the offense and especially the young receivers. With some much talent, youth, and ability, Heyward-Bey is happy to give advice and guidance to the Raiders' receivers because his main goal is wins.

“Anytime the younger players come up to me and ask me a question I am there to help,” Heyward-Bey said. “I am trying to win the AFC west, and I am trying to win championships here. So if any of the younger guys want any advice I am out there to give it to them. It helps me out and keeps me on my toes and makes me want to do better.”

That was not the case when Heyward-Bey entered the league as the seventh overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. He struggled his first two seasons in the league, never catching even 30 passes and never over 400 receiving yards. However last season, Heyward-Bey showed why the Raiders took him so early. He broke out making 64 receptions for 975 yards and four touchdowns.

“I will put it like this, I am playing better,” Heyward-Bey said. “I think I am the same guy. I am hungry, I want to do well, I want to be that guy on this team that helps bring wins. Since day one when Al Davis brought me in, I have been the same guy. Results have been different, but the mindset has been the same.”

Raiders head coach Dennis Allen is trying to change the culture in Oakland. He wants tough, disciplined football players, who can lead by example. He wants and believes Heyward-Bey can step up and be a leader on this football team. Not by having the best stats but by playing the game the right way.

“At the end of the day the leaders are the guys that are going to do things the right way,” Raiders head coach Dennis Allen said. “That are going to be exactly what we talk about, being smart, tough, discipline football players that are going to do it the right way no matter what the situation is. They are going to hold everybody else accountable to the same standard.”

He went on to say of Heyward-Bey:

“We got enough good football players that we can spread the ball around. I think we aren’t concerned who catches 75-100 balls. I’m concerned about how well he’s blocking on the running plays. I’m concerned about how well he’s running routes. And I’m concerned about his mindset going into the season, and so far I’ve been pleased.”

With no clear cut, established number one receiver on the Raiders, many people think that is a detriment. However the team feels they have a plethora of weapons to utilize in the passing game. Heyward-Bey, as part of establishing his leadership role, wants to develop into that number one guy, but realizes the more dangerous the receiving corps is as a whole, the better.

“I think every receiver tells himself, I want to be that guy that gets this first down or make that play,” Heyward-Bey said. “I think if we all had that mindset and we play together, we can do it by committee. There is always going to be that guy that has more catches than the others. But if we do it and work as a team, the sky is the limit.”



Be sure to check out other great articles at Sports Media 101.

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