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Marcio Jose Sanchez, Associated Press
Oakland Raiders wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey (85) runs past Detroit Lions middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch (55) on a 43-yard touchdown reception during the second quarter of an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Dec. 18, 2011.

ALAMEDA, Calif. — Darrius Heyward-Bey has been the target of criticism ever since the Oakland Raiders surprisingly drafted him seventh overall in 2009 ahead of more accomplished receivers.

After two lackluster, drop-filled seasons to start his career, Heyward-Bey is finally showing some signs of what the Raiders saw in him coming out of college.

Heyward-Bey is coming off the best game of his young career. He had eight catches for 155 yards and a touchdown in last week's loss to Detroit — the most yardage for a Raiders wide receiver since Jerry Rice in 2003.

He says he has never been bothered by the criticism and is just making steady progress each week as he becomes a reliable NFL receiver.