It took more than a year and half, a position change and a humbling suspension, but Darren Waller has finally made his first NFL touchdown catch.
And the second-year tight end hopes there will be more in the future as he grows more familiar with his new position.
Waller caught a 4-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco that gave the Ravens the lead for good in their 28-7 win over the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night and finished with two catches for 14 yards.
"It was great," Waller said of his first career touchdown. "Seeing everybody else happy for me for the most part was really what made it a good moment."
Waller was drafted as a wide receiver by the Ravens in the sixth round last year and saw limited duty in six games before landing on injured reserve with a hamstring injury. Then in the offseason, the Ravens approached the 6-6, 255-pound Waller about making the switch to tight end.
The Ravens were overhauling their receiving corps and it didn't seem there would be room for Waller.
Then again, with Crockett Gillmore, Maxx Williams and Nick Boyle all returning, plus the offseason signing of Ben Watson, plus the potential return of Dennis Pitta, there was no guarantee there would be a tight end spot for Waller, either.
His status became further clouded when he was slapped with a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, an event he called "humbling" when he returned to action in October.
By then, injuries had opened the door for Waller. Watson went down with a torn Achilles early in the preseason. Williams went to injured reserve with a knee injury and Gillmore has missed the past two games with a thigh injury. Plus Boyle is still serving a 10-game suspension.
In the past two games, Waller and Pitta have been the only tight ends in uniform. That has given Waller the chance to get involved in the offense. He played a season-high 29 offensive snaps against the Browns.
"I'm starting to feel comfortable now, still not entirely there, because there's still a lot of foreign stuff," Waller said. "But I feel like I'm getting better at it, working every day, diving into it, even when I'm not in the building, even before I come in the building, after I leave the building.
"I'm trying to make sure there's no dropoff at the position," he added.
"The team deserves every position to be playing at a high level."
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