Where’s Darren Waller?
Las Vegas’ tight end missed a Week 5 game against Houston with a hamstring injury, and when he has played, the results made Raiders fans wince.
After signing a three-year, $51 million contract extension in September, Waller has 16 catches for 175 yards in five games. He returned to practice this week.
Waller’s slow adjustment to first-year coach Josh McDaniels’ offense is concerning.
“The injuries have created a slow acclimation to the new offense under coach Josh McDaniels and playing alongside new wide receiver Davante Adams,” wrote Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, “For the offense to take another big step, they need a healthy Waller for the balance of the season rather than segments of it.”
Waller’s paltry average of 35 yards per game, his lowest figure as a Raider, drags down that middling ranking and the offense.
Waller is expected to play Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. He has missed seven of the past 26 regular-season games with injuries. In 2019 and 2020, he didn’t miss a game.
The last time the Raiders played New Orleans, Waller snagged 12 balls for 105 yards and a TD. If he remains healthy, Waller could fatten his stat line over the next month against teams below .500 (Saints, Jaguars, Colts and Broncos).
That weak schedule could help boost the Raiders into playoff contention. As it stands now, the odds aren’t in their favor.
Las Vegas can’t count on its horrendous defense (25 ppg.), so the offense — and Waller — must deliver.