clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Raiders’ bye week: Area of Concern

Tight end Darren Waller suddenly an injury concern? Other Las Vegas ailments to keep an eye on

Arizona Cardinals v Las Vegas Raiders
Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller left last Monday night’s clash with the Kansas City Chiefs with injury and didn’t return.
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Before Josh McDaniels spoke about the Xs and Os — the football corrections — his Las Vegas Raiders would embark upon during the bye week, the head coach stressed on the importance of mending.

“I think the big thing obviously for us is — first, would be bumps and bruises,” McDaniels said before his team took on the bye week reprieve. “We got some guys with bumps and bruises from yesterday. I mean, we’re going to need to take some time to make sure that we’re healthy as we go into the following week against Houston.”

The most paramount of ailments for the Silver & Black is Darren Waller. The must-account-for tight end played just two series — eight snaps — against the Kansas City Chiefs in the Raiders’ 30-29 loss before it headed into the bye. A hamstring ailment, one that bothered him during the summer and lead-up to the 2022 campaign, was the culprit. Waller wasn’t targeted in those eight offensive snaps and his night was done.

Once an integral piece of the Raiders offense, the 6-foot-6, 255-pound 30-year-old’s contributions thus far are a far cry from what they used to be: 24 targets, 16 catches for 175 yards and a touchdown. Waller’s most productive outing came in Week 1 when he hauled in four passes for 79. Depending on which stat/charting you rely on, Waller is tacked with two or one drop — uncharacteristic for a normally sure-handed pass catcher.

To compound matters, the once underpaid tight end got his coin — a three-year $51 million contract extension on September 9 that provided him $19.25 million fully guaranteed at signing — isn’t living up to the new pay scale. And his unavailability only hinders his contributions further.

Syndication: The Tennessean
Las Vegas Raiders tight end Foster Moreau, top, missed the team’s last two games with a knee injury.
Andrew Nelles / / USA TODAY NETWORK

Hamstring injuries can linger and leave a player’s availability iffy and for Waller, who’s explosiveness is generated a lot by his legs and lower body, the bye week comes at an ample time to rest and recuperate. McDaniels noted in his postgame presser he didn’t believe Waller’s injury to be overly significant.

Waller isn’t the only ailing tight end on the Raiders roster, however. His backup, Foster Moreau, missed Las Vegas’ last two matchups due to a knee injury. The 6-foot-4, 250-pound 25-year-old has slumped in terms of contributions too, seeing eight targets for six catches and 74 yards in three games. Moreau wasn’t targeted once in Week 1.

The injuries to Waller and Moreau have given Jesper Horsted more offensive snaps, however, despite being a former collegiate wide receiver-turned tight end, the latter doesn’t provide near the same experience, rapport and athleticism as the two former tight ends. The 6-foor-4, 241-pound Horsted has three targets, three catches for 19 yards on the season — all of which came against the Chiefs.

The byproduct of the Raiders’ TE1 and TE2 being out is using an extra offensive tackle at the tight end spot as an extra blocker in jumbo sets.

Other Raiders Ailments

—Cornerback Nate Hobbs sported a cast during the loss to Kansas City. He posted on his Instagram he broke his hand but got a cast on it and came back in to finish the game against the Chiefs. This is something to keep an eye on going forward as Hobbs is arguably the Raiders best corner but having a cast on his hand can limit his ability to tackle and pick off passes. We’ll know more about the severity and if it limits Hobbs when the Raiders reconvene and speak to the media this coming week.

—Linebacker Jayon Brown, like Waller, was ailed by a hamstring issue the week leading up to the Chiefs clash. He got in a limited practice on Thursday before missing back-to-back practices Friday and Saturday and was listed as out for the Monday night game.

—Cornerback Anthony Averett, who landed on injured reserve back for a thumb injury suffered in Week 1, was slated to be out until at least Week 6. Perhaps we’ll hear more word on how he’s progressing and if he’ll hit the return window anytime soon.

—Ditto for wide receiver DJ Turner. He landed on injured reserve after an ankle injury suffered in the season opener. The severity is unclear and maybe we’ll get an update as the Raiders prep for Week 6 this coming week.