INDIANAPOLIS – Adjusting to a new NFL atmosphere means adapting on and off the field for a guy like Darrius Heyward-Bey.
Heyward-Bey is like every player, he wants to win and be a part of a good structure. Signed on April 1, he likes how the first month has gone.
"It's been going well. I've just been trying to get into the playbook and get some chemistry with Andrew (Luck)," said Heyward-Bey. "I know we've got some young guys who are hungry, and I'm just trying to fit into the middle and make plays for Andrew (Luck) and this team."
Heyward-Bey joined the Colts after four years in Oakland, noting the turbulent time he endured there included three coaches, four offensive coordinators and six starting quarterbacks.
The rotating signal-callers meant an uphill struggle on a regular basis.
"Definitely in Oakland, we went through a lot of changes in my four years there. Having a quarterback like Andrew gives me a chance to make plays," said Heyward-Bey. "He has so much command (of the offense), and consistency is key.
"If you're consistent at quarterback and consistent at the head coaching position, you know what you're getting each and every week."
Being a fifth-year player makes Heyward-Bey the second-most senior Colts receiver behind Reggie Wayne. With that youth, he sees a driven bunch of players.
"They're out here scrapping, and they want to win," said Heyward-Bey. "They have vets like Robert Mathis who are also hungry to win. They want to get back to where they were with Peyton (Manning)."
Heyward-Bey shares the appetite, too. Taken seventh overall in the 2009 draft, he only has known non-winning seasons, and he noticed criticisms from outsiders.
"People throughout my whole career have told me I can't do it, not just my NFL career, but ever since high school," said Heyward-Bey. "Ever since high school people told me I couldn't play football. I keep on trying to prove to them and myself that I can."
Heyward-Bey has charted his way, not holding grudges but by being demanding of himself as he has played.
"It's just the way I was raised," said Heyward-Bey. "I don't ever go back (and say), 'I'm mad at these people.' I was born this way and my mom raised me this way.
"I like to challenge myself. For example in high school, I decided to go to a boarding school. That was my decision. I wanted to challenge myself. I'm always hard on myself and always try to get better."
After playing receiver and linebacker in high school, he chose Maryland and twice was an All-ACC performer while ranking second in school career reception yardage.
Timed at 4.3 at the combine entering the league, Heyward-Bey has only missed eight games. He is looking for big things from himself in a new environment.
"I feel great. Everybody (has) welcomed me with open arms," said Heyward-Bey. "Vontae (Davis) and I are from the same area back home. Andrew has definitely helped me out a lot in the offense. In my opinion, (he's) the best young quarterback out there.
"Everyone has been pretty nice. I definitely came here because I'm excited about the opportunity to make plays and be a part of something special.
"I see myself making plays. At the wide receiver position, that's what you do. You have to make the quarterback look perfect every time. That's what I plan on bringing."