The very frequent and reliable training camp tweeting of the Oakland Tribune's Jerry McDonald tells us that the Raiders will once again start the two rookies, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Louis Murphy, at wide receiver Saturday when they take on the New Orleans Saints in the third preseason game.
And that's with Mr. $16-million-guaranteed Javon Walker healthy and available.
This all means that Oakland Raider fans might want to get ready for these two rookies to be their starting wide receivers when the regular season opens. Jerry McDonald quoted Tom Cable in Friday's after-practice remarks that Heyward-Bey and Murphy "could conceivably open the regular season as starters."
"Could conceivably" means the only way they won't is if one of them gets hurt, too.
Chaz Schilens won't be back for the beginning of the regular season, and that's just that. But the Raiders' starting their rookie receivers, even with Javon Walker available, shows this is a move of choice and not necessity.
Louis Murphy was named by the Contra Costa Times as the "best rookie" in camp, and has significant sleeper potential. That touchdown he caught Saturday against the 49ers? He was being covered by Pro Bowl cornerback Nate Clements. In an even more important sign that he will fit in nicely with the Raiders, Murphy was also named the Times' "Best Practice Scuffle" winner for a donnybrook with Mike Mitchell.
And Heyward-Bey, if you haven't noticed, has dropped his case of the drops and is now turning in a solid training camp performance.
Coach Tom Cable is as confident about his rookies as he is that the Napa Police are going to let him off. "I don’t think that’s an issue, quite honestly, other than the fact that they are rookies,” Cable told the Oakland Trib. “They’re doing really, really well, both of them. They just keep getting better and as they have progressed all the time. That’s enabled us to do it.”
So both Heyward-Bey and Murphy won the starting jobs, by being the two best healthy receivers in Raiders training camp. But don't expect Mel Kiper to correct his assessment of the Raiders' draft picks anytime soon.
Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who is obsessed with 40 times and has bust written all over him.