Damien Woody applauds Raiders for taking rookie class to Google campus


Darren Waller’s identify got here up a ton throughout this Raiders offseason program, all the time in a optimistic mild.

The younger receiving tight finish flashed persistently throughout OTAs and minicamp, a mismatch that has dared followers to dream about one other dominant talent participant impacting this upcoming season.

Waller made a number of large performs after becoming a member of the Raiders late final 12 months the fan base actually remembers, particularly the 21-yard finish round and the 44-yard catch-and-run in Cincinnati. The transformed receiver from Georgia Tech has all the abilities required to be a productive NFL participant.

“We’ll we stated, I believe the final time we talked, since he’s been right here he’s been certainly one of our most spectacular gamers,” head coach Jon Gruden stated. “He performed a key function final 12 months when he acquired right here. He’s acquired some large sneakers to fill, I do know he respects that, however he’s versatile, he’s sensible, he’s quick. He needs to do good, he’s an important child.”

Re-read final half: He needs to do good. That’s significant and a useless correct for somebody who squandered early parts of his NFL profession. He was suspended twice for violating the NFL’s substance abuse coverage, the second time for a full season. All these setbacks earlier than age 26, all of them self inflicted

Waller isn’t losing any extra time. He’s useless set on maximizing a Raiders alternative. This opportunity was set in movement late final 12 months when the Raiders signed him off Baltimore’s follow squad. Then Gruden determined to let Jared Prepare dinner depart in free company and didn’t draft a receiving tight finish excessive, setting Waller as much as be a featured participant.

Waller absorbed all that however nonetheless didn’t dream large. This supreme athlete is the one-day-at-a-time kind, an outlook that has blazed a path for regular progress. That’s his recipe for potential maximization.

“I simply tried to arrange myself to come back again and contribute once more,” Waller stated. “I didn’t actually look so far as how large my function can be. But when my work was there and I used to be staying clear and being constant in what I used to be doing, that my function would improve sooner or later.”

Staying clear was a obligatory component to Waller’s progress, the bedrock of all the great that’s coming from him lately. That enables him to keep away from earlier pratfalls and be heading in the right direction to arrange for his 2019 function, one that might actually launch his profession.

“That provides me a spot to be ok with myself and respect myself after I look within the mirror as a result of, earlier than, I couldn’t actually do this,” Waller stated. “These sorts of issues translate to the sector the place you already know you’re form of hesitant on the market. You could assume, oh I don’t know, you’re not too positive of your self.

“However now I get up and I’m doing what I’m alleged to be doing in my life and representing my household in a optimistic method. I really feel like that goes a good distance into me taking over a heavier load and having confidence in myself to hold it out.”

Confidence is warranted after a superb offseason. He’s bodily stronger and was as spectacular as anybody not named Antonio Brown in OTAs and minicamp work. He’s proving a dependable receiver able to shifting across the formation like Prepare dinner did final 12 months, trying to find a mismatch. He’s too large for cornerbacks at 6-foot-6, 250 kilos, and too quick for linebackers and even some safeties.

Including him to a receiving arsenal that features Brown and Tyrell Williams might show powerful to defend. Raiders defensive backs have realized that the onerous method this spring, proving optimism that Waller will thrive in 2019. He confirmed flashes after becoming a member of the Raiders final 12 months, with a number of large performs to his credit score.

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Gruden isn’t able to anoint Waller simply but, however he sees nice potential in somebody stolen from a follow squad.

“Once you put the pads on three, 4, 5 days in a row up in Napa I believe that will probably be a greater indication,” Gruden stated. “He’s acquired quite a bit to show. He’s a younger participant who’s a transformed huge receiver; don’t overlook that. He’s not been introduced up as a decent finish, however he has made numerous progress.”

Gruden has given Waller nice help bringing him to the Raiders and offering a golden alternative to lastly thrive as an NFL participant. He has obtained such help earlier than and wasted it. He doesn’t plan on repeating that sample this time round.

“The factor with me is…I really feel like folks have all the time had religion in me, however it was like I didn’t actually think about myself,” Waller stated. “So it’s a part of doing my half, doing my half as a result of numerous coaches have caught their neck out for me and what I’ve given them in return isn’t what they deserve or what the workforce deserved. For Coach Gruden to say that, I really feel like I’m at a spot in my life the place I can construct off of that and benefit from my skills and what God gave me. That’s simply what I plan on doing.”


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