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Darren Waller is on the cusp of making NFL history

Las Vegas Raiders star tight end Darren Waller
Las Vegas Raiders star tight end Darren Waller

The Las Vegas Raiders pulled out a thrilling overtime win in the season opener against the Baltimore Ravens, with Darren Waller starting the year off strong once again.

The Raiders’ powerful showing featured the offense leading the charge behind the passing game as Derek Carr threw for 435 yards with two touchdown passes. However, the shining star continues to be the team's Pro Bowl tight end in Waller.

Darren Waller going from strength to strength i

The 29-year-old had a couple of uncharacteristic drops, but he piled up a stellar outing with 10 catches on a game-high 19 targets for 105 receiving yards and a touchdown. Waller has been the clear-cut focal point of the Raiders’ offense, and his meteoric rise the last couple of seasons has led head coach Jon Gruden to proclaim he’s the best player he’s ever coached.

Jon Gruden with some high praise for Darren Waller 👀 https://t.co/1qQmBFE7yZ

“We threw it 60 times, and if you threw it 60 times, you would probably target him 29 times,” Gruden said of Darren Waller, via Vic Tafur of The Athletic. “He’s the best player I have ever coached, so I am going to continue to look for him.”

Waller has come a long way from being a sixth-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft with the Baltimore Ravens. Unfortunately for him, that stint with the Ravens was muddied by suspension for substance abuse violations. Despite that, the Raiders took a chance on him in 2018, and it’s worked wonders for both sides.

Waller continues to ride the wave from a strong finish last season as he’s on the verge of making NFL history. The Raiders star could become the first tight end in league history to record five straight 100 receiving yard performances.

#Raiders Darren Waller can become first tight end in #NFL history with five straight 100-yard games. #NFLStats

Four other tight ends have reached the four-straight game mark along with Waller. These four players are Tyler Higbee for the Los Angeles Rams, Travis Kelce for the Kansas City Chiefs, Jimmy Graham (twice) with the Saints, and Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez with the Kansas City Chiefs. Recording five straight 100 receiving yard performances is even tougher, but for Waller the feat is well within grasp.

Las Vegas will continue to give Waller every opportunity to produce at a high level as his target share remains quite steady. In the 37 games he’s played with the Raiders, he has 213 catches on 287 targets while compiling 2,521 receiving yards.

Waller is Carr’s primary offensive weapon, and the trend will remain the same with the former garnering the same high-volume workload regardless of how a game unfolds. But things will get tougher for Waller in Week 2 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who possess one of the league’s best defenses.

The Steelers will focus on limiting Waller's production as he’s the engine that makes the Raiders’ offense flow. If anything, Las Vegas may make a concerted effort to move the ball down the field through Waller’s playmaking as a receiver.

NFL history is within reach. So expect Gruden to give Waller every chance to add the prestigious record to his resume.

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Edited by Henno van Deventer
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