Raiders

Raiders

MINNESOTA – Darren Waller was targeted 14 times Sunday against the Vikings. He caught 13 passes.

The Raiders tight end didn’t care much about that. He harped on the one that went through his hands, a third-down opportunity missed that would’ve put the Raiders in field-goal range.

Such is life after a 34-14 shellacking from the Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium.

“The first thing that comes to mind is the pass I didn’t catch,” Waller said. “That’s points right there. We could’ve gotten on the board and entered halftime with momentum.

“I look at me first and what I could’ve done better. There are plenty of things I could’ve done better. There are things we all can do better. That’s why we play a whole season. We can turn this thing around.”

The Raiders have some soul searching to do after getting blasted by the Vikings in a game that wasn’t ever close.

They can rest assured knowing they’ve got a dangerous weapon playing tight end.

“The guy blocks and runs routes on linebackers and cornerbacks and you think, ‘Darren, what can’t you do?’” quarterback Derek Carr said. “I don’t think enough kids are wearing his jersey.”

Today was tailor-made for Waller, a big, fast, sure-handed receiver. The Vikings played tons of zone coverage, leaving Waller to find holes on intermediate routes. That led Carr to feed Waller consistently throughout, though the long drives didn’t always put points on the board.

 

“The looks they gave us weren’t new,” Waller said. “They’re a good defense, and they’re going to run what they’re going to run. Credit the offensive staff for having things drawn up and in place. The line gave Derek time and he made those throws. We expected those [opportunities] to be there. We didn’t have to do anything special.”

The Raiders could’ve had points at the end of the first half had Waller made that play. That’s going to drive him nuts when reflecting on this game.

“I had two hands on the ball. I already know,” Waller said. “My trainer from back home told me I need to start doing pushups for all drops. It absolutely should’ve been caught.”

Waller can see he did some good things and clearly has gained Carr’s trust. He has 26 catches for 267 yards through three games, far and away the best receiving numbers on the team.

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That should continue, even if extra attention gets paid down the line.

"The more they put on me, the more I’m willing to take,” Waller said. “I try to not be too extreme. There’s a lot of good, and there’s bad to clean up. I feel like I’m growing in a positive direction as far as my game is concerned. I always try to take and good and bad out of everything. There was some good there, for sure.

“In the end, it’s just playing football. I try to not make it much more complex than that. The scoreboard’s there, but you just have to go from play to play to play. You can get in a groove and that’s fun.”