NAPA, Calif. -- Darrius Heyward-Bey clearly has the speed to separate from defenders.
But what does that matter if the second-year receiver can't leave his dismal rookie season in the dust?
A quick review: The Oakland Raiders picked Heyward-Bey seventh in the 2009 draft, gave him $23.5 million in guarantees, then watched him catch nine balls -- nine! -- in 11 games.
Now, Heyward-Bey has a capable quarterback in Jason Campbell, a respected offensive coordinator in Hue Jackson, and another chance to show he's deserving of that money -- or at least not a complete washout.
Heyward-Bey has added 10 pounds to his lanky frame, beefing up to 215, and by all accounts looked good in off-season workouts.
Raiders Coach Tom Cable said he likes what he's seen so far in camp, especially the way the receiver bounces back after a bad play.
"That's the greatest growth I've seen in him," Cable told reporters last week. "Real maturity."
For what it's worth, Heyward-Bey doesn't seem too stressed about the situation.
"If you're here, you can play in this league," he recently told The Contra Costa Times. "You've just got to go out and make it happen."
Simple advice, but it might be of use to some other 2009 first-round picks who for one reason or another -- injury as a rookie, inexperience or just plain inefficiency -- are heading into pressure situations this season. A look at some of them:
--Jason Smith, TE, Rams (No. 2): Smith was the highest-paid player in the NFC West as a rookie with a total compensation package of almost $21 million. He didn't give the Rams much bang for their mega-buck, missing most of the season because of a broken toe. Although St. Louis took him No. 2 thinking that he could hold down the left-tackle job for the next decade, Smith appears more suited for the right side. It's rookie second-rounder Rodger Saffold who has the inside track at left tackle.
--Tyson Jackson, DE, Chiefs (No. 3): Jackson, who got $31 million in guaranteed money, concedes that his rookie season was a real letdown. He started 14 games but failed to collect a sack. The Chiefs are hoping new defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel can help the former Louisiana State standout realize his potential.
-- Andre Smith, T, Bengals (No. 6): It's hard to imagine Smith's being much more of a disappointment for the Bengals. They knew he had weight problems when they drafted him, but they didn't think he'd miss almost his entire rookie training camp as a contract holdout. Then, he was sidelined by a foot injury that required surgery after the season and is still bothering him. A very bad start.
-- Larry English, LB, Chargers (No. 16): English was something of a surprise first-rounder last season, and he found it challenging to go from a hand-on-the-ground defensive end at Northern Illinois to outside linebacker in the pros. He had decent numbers (two starts, two sacks, a forced fumble) and now the Chargers are expecting more -- especially with Shawne Merriman holding out.
-- Robert Ayers, LB, Broncos (No. 18): The highlight video from Ayers' rookie year is flashy (he returned a fumble 54 yards for a touchdown) but not very long. He's still looking for his first NFL sack. Ayers cemented his reputation as a tireless worker this off-season, and the Broncos need him to step up and be a playmaker this year, especially with the season of Elvis Dumervil (torn pectoral muscle) in jeopardy.
-- Peria Jerry, DT, Falcons (No. 24): Atlanta is gingerly working Jerry back into the practice rotation after he suffered a knee injury in Week 2 that brought his rookie season to an abrupt halt. He was cleared to return to practice just days before the start of training camp this summer.
-- Eric Wood, G, Bills (No. 28): Last November, Woods suffered a gruesome compound fracture of his lower left leg, a visual that was just as jarring as the broken leg of former Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann. Despite some rough edges, Woods looked very good as a rookie and, now that he has returned to practice, seems to be picking up where he left off.