After a somewhat quiet Week 1, Darren Waller reminded everybody in the football world on Monday night that he’s an unstoppable force at tight end for the Las Vegas Raiders. Last year, Waller announced himself as one of the NFL’s best tight ends. Any worry about him being a one-hit-wonder has flown completely out the window.
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick knows a thing or two about elite tight ends. He had some incredibly strong praise for Waller.
“I’m really impressed with everything he does,” Belichick said recently, via the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “He’s very competitive, got great size, got great quickness for his size, catches the ball very well. He can run all the routes. Really is a versatile player, talented. He’ll definitely be a problem for us. There’s not one thing you can take away from him. He does a lot of things well.”
Waller went from having one foot out of the NFL due to substance abuse issues and now he’s being called a “problem” by the greatest coach of all time. It’s a testament to how much work he’s put in and just how athletically gifted he is. Waller may have lost a few years early in his career but he’s on track to be one of the great Raider tight ends ever.
Belichick Praises Jon Gruden
Belichick and Raiders head coach Jon Gruden have a bit of a history. If it wasn’t for Belichick and the Patriots, Gruden may have won a Super Bowl with the Raiders. Everybody remembers the infamous “tuck rule” game. It wasn’t that much longer after that game that Gruden was traded to Tampa Bay.
It’s been a while since Belichick has matched up against Gruden but he believes the coach hasn’t changed much.
“His system is basically the same, but Jon does a great job of adapting to his personnel and utilizing the weapons that he has,” Belichick said. “He does as good a job as anybody. He’ll put his guys in position and utilize them like he always does. He’s a very creative coach.”
Belichick went on to praise Gruden’s ability to get a lot of playmakers on offense involved.
“There’s a lot of things to cover,” Belichick said. “Again, Coach Gruden does an excellent job of using all of his different personnel groups. A lot of guys that carry the ball, catch the ball and give you a lot of different looks.”
This will be the first time Belichick has coached a Gruden-led Raiders squad since the “tuck rule” game.
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Waller Pops up on Injury Report
During Monday’s game, Waller didn’t look to be hampered by any nagging injuries but he popped up on the team’s Wednesday injury report with a knee problem that caused him to miss practice. Waller didn’t miss a single game last season so he was likely held out of practice for precautionary reasons.
He’s as tough as they come. It’s hard to imagine he doesn’t play his normal amount of snaps against the Patriots. He’s quickly becoming one of the two most important players on the Raiders offense and they need him on the field if they hope to win.