Raiders TE Darren Waller

Carr Or No Carr, Raiders TE Darren Waller Bouncing Back Nicely

It’s funny how much can change in the course of one NFL season. Now, this isn’t to say that Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller is out of the woods yet. If you recall, many Raiders fans wanted Waller gone after this season. It’s hard to blame them when you consider the slow year that No. 83 has had. Nevertheless, Waller has come along nicely as of late, with or without Derek Carr.

It wasn’t that long ago that people were questioning Waller’s hamstring injury. They even came to bring up his dedication to the game as well; needless to say, it was getting ugly. However, Waller began his road to winning back Raiders fans on Sunday. Against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 17, Waller caught three big passes for 72 yards. But that wasn’t all. With Jarrett Stidham at the helm, Waller helped cap off an opening drive with a touchdown. The Raiders’ new quarterback went three of three for 58 yards on that drive; a glimpse of the future, perhaps?

This isn’t an attempt to dismiss Carr. Let’s keep in mind that Waller has had much success attributed to Carr’s play. In fact, Waller has 14 career touchdowns alongside Carr, which lands him fourth overall on Carr’s list. With that being said, Waller certainly looked like he was getting his pep back in his step. After the game, Waller was quite praiseful of Stidham.

According to Pro Football Focus, Darren Waller had an 87.9 receiving grade on Sunday. Raiders fans saw what Josh McDaniels likely envisioned for Waller this week; according to PFF, Waller lined up in the slot 18 times and wide on the outside once. Prior to the season, fans were drooling at the prospect of Waller in McDaniels’ offense, which produced tons of success for tight ends in New England. While the team fell short of expectations as a whole, one can’t help but wonder if Waller’s talent combined with Stidham’s arm can make a notable duo next season.

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*Top Photo: NBC Sports

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