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Heyward-Bey back at practice for Raiders

Associated Press Modified: October 2, 2012 at 7:17 pm •  Published: October 2, 2012
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ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — Wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey practiced for the first time Tuesday since being hospitalized by a helmet-to-helmet hit as the Oakland Raiders worked on fixing their problems during the bye week.

Heyward-Bey took part in individual drills as the Raiders (1-3) held their first of two practices this week before getting four days off for the bye. He ran some routes and caught some passes in his first step back.

"We're kind of at that stage, just trying to take the necessary steps," he said. "We've got a plan for me, and today was step No. 1 and I feel pretty good."

Heyward-Bey was knocked unconscious on Sept. 23 by a helmet-to-helmet hit in the end zone from Pittsburgh safety Ryan Mundy. Heyward-Bey appeared to be knocked out by the hit. He then crashed to the turf headfirst and his neck twisted awkwardly. He was taken to the hospital for a concussion and sprained neck.

Heyward-Bey did not practice last week as he waited to pass the NFL concussion tests. But he was able to participate Tuesday and said he plans to play in the team's next game Oct. 14 at Atlanta.

This is the second straight year in which Heyward-Bey has had to be carted off the field during a game. He suffered a neck injury against Minnesota in 2011 but did not miss a game.

"I took a hard hit last year but that was a lot more of a neck injury than a head injury when it came to that one and I came back the next week," he said. "For each person individually it's different. Everybody works differently, everybody is a different personality, so got to look at it that way."

Heyward-Bey is coming off his best season as a pro, when he had 64 catches for 975 yards and four touchdowns. Heyward-Bey was picked seventh overall in 2009 and struggled his first two seasons. But the Raiders were counting on him to build on his breakthrough campaign this year and be a key part of the offense with quarterback Carson Palmer.

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