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Jon Gruden: Raiders are going to be ‘more demanding’ of star tight end Darren Waller in 2021

Even more work is on the horizon for Waller

Las Vegas Raiders v Denver Broncos
Darren Waller
Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Darren Waller has caught 197 passes in the past two season combined, which is the second most by a tight end in the NFL.

He is easily the Las Vegas Raiders’ best player. What more can he do in the 2021 season? Apparently a lot more.

In one of the highlights of his press conference to start training camp on Tuesday (practice began this morning) Raiders coach Jon Gruden said Waller, who has proven to be an elite tight end in the past two seasons, will have even more put on his plate in terms of his role in the Las Vegas playbook.

“We got to continue to build around him,” Gruden said. “We got to get some of our young receivers to take pressure off of him and we’ve put some more things in our playbook. We are going to be a lot more demanding of Waller going forward. We got to continue to try to probe some matchups and get him places where we can get him the ball.”

Waller knows he can rely on Waller, who has became one of the most amazing stories in the NFL after signing him off the Baltimore Ravens’ practice squad in 2018 and after struggling with substance abuse. Waller is often the Raiders’ No. 1 wide receiver as he lines up wide. He can be a matchup nightmare.

Now, the plan is to utilize him even more, which should be sweet music to the ears of Waller’s fantasy owners.

“He’s just got to keep being Darren Waller,” Gruden said. “He has done an incredible job of playing wide receiver, tight end, in the slot. He’s come out of the backfield. He’s smart, he’s versatile. He’s a complete player. He can block, pass protect. I’ve never been around a guy that is that unselfish, that talented and that versatile and that complete.”