Raiders tight end Darren Waller officially is questionable for Sunday’s showdown with the Patriots, due to a knee injury. If he plays, he’ll definitely have New England’s attention.
They’d better have something for him. Defensive back Devin McCourty compared Waller not to other tight ends, but to receivers like Brandon Marshall and Calvin Johnson.
“He brings every challenge you can think of,” McCourty said. “It’s covering him, it’s tackling him, it’s knowing where he is in their offense, how they might use him. They use him so many different ways, you’re not going to get a true bead on it.”
Earlier in the week, coach Bill Belichick offered over-the-top praise for Waller.
“I think it’s been such a long time since we’ve seen a guy like this,” Belichick told reporters. “He’s really got great receiver skills, played receiver. He’s got a lot of length like a big receiver does, but he’s got very good quickness and he blocks very competitively. He’s not afraid to mix it up. So he’s definitely more than a receiver playing tight end, but he’s got all the skills that can come inside. He’s a very good inside receiver, which sometimes the wideouts have trouble making that move in there. He’s really been impressive to watch.
“We saw him last year, looked at him in the offseason and you just see him doing everything — playing wide, playing in the backfield, playing tight end, running deep, catch-and-run plays, blocking, flash plays, point of attack plays. So, very versatile player, pretty unique guy in the league. There’s some really good tight ends, but nobody really does more than this guy does and he does it very well. He’s got excellent hands and makes a lot of tough catches. He’s definitely a matchup problem.”
He definitely is. Waller has 18 catches on 24 targets through two 2020 games. He caught 12 on Monday night against the Saints.