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, Calif. (AP) — Two drug suspensions threatened to derail Darren Waller’s NFL career before it really got started.Now the leading candidate to replace Jared Cook as Oakland’s top tight end, Waller credits those early setbacks with getting him back on track.“At the time it seemed like a whole lot but I’ve been able to learn that the most uncomfortable work is the one that pays off and makes things much more enjoyable,” Waller said Tuesday at the start of the Raiders‘ three-day mandatory minicamp. “It’s been a whole lot of hard work, a whole lot of just making sure that I’m consistent.”Waller missed all of 2017 after being suspended by the NFL for one year following a second violation of the league’s substance-abuse policy. That came on the heels of a four-game suspension in 2016 when Waller acknowledged using marijuana.Waller returned to the NFL in 2018 but didn’t play until the Raiders claimed him off the Ravens’ practice squad. He played in four games late in the season and caught six passes for 75 yards.Though a small sample size, it was enough to convince Oakland to keep Waller around. When Pro Bowl tight end Jared Cook signed with New Orleans as a free agent, Raiders coach Jon Gruden quickly dubbed Waller a leading candidate to replace Cook.“Since he’s been here he’s been one of our most impressive players,” Gruden said. “He played a key role last year when he got here. He’s got some big shoes to fill. I know he respects that. He’s versatile, he’s smart, he’s fast.He wants to do good.”A sixth-round pick of Baltimore in 2015, Waller was drafted as a wide receiver before converting to tight end in 2016. That was right at the start of his off-field troubles which Waller acknowledged carried over to what he did on the field. He caught 12 passes in 18 games with the Ravens.It’s an issue the 26-year-old Waller said he no longer has to worry about.“That gives me a place to feel good about myself and respect myself when I look in the mirror,” Waller said. “Before, I couldn’t really do that and those kind of things translate to the field where it’s like you’re kind of hesitant out there, you’re not too sure of yourself. But now I wake up and I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing in my life and representing my family in a positive way. That goes a long way into me taking on a heavier load and having the confidence in myself to carry it out.“I just tried to prepare myself to come back and contribute again. I didn’t really look as far as how big my role would be but that if my work was there and I was staying clean and being consistent in what I was doing that my role would increase at some point.”Cook’s departure as a free agent was a big hit to the Raiders offense. In two seasons with Oakland Tim Brown Jersey
, Cook caught 122 passes for 1,584 yards and eight touchdowns, often serving as a safety net for quarterback Derek Carr.Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock overhauled the team’s receiving corps in the offseason, highlighted by the acquisition of Antonio Brown. That could mean fewer opportunities for the tight ends, although Waller’s maturation should keep him in the mix.At the very least, it’s given Waller another shot in the NFL, something he has reminded himself of this offseason.“Staying clean, number one of course, just doing something every day involving football,” Waller said when asked about his daily routine. “Making sure that I know that all I have is today. I don’t really have any days that are promised and I can’t live my life that way.”Notes: Cornerback Gareon Conley worked out on his own in a nearby weight room. . Gruden said Mayock and representatives for Rodney Hudson have been in talks regarding a possible contract extension for the two-time Pro Bowl center. . The Raiders are discussing holding joint practices with the Los Angeles Rams prior to their Aug. 10 preseason game. . Oakland signed WR Montay Crockett and CB Isaiah Langley. DB Makinton Dorleant and S Montrel Meander were waived.Silver Mining 9/19: Clinton McDonald glad he ended up with Raiders, Division rivals looking tough Raiders news Jared Cook’s rare size-speed combination unleashed in Raiders schemeJared Cook has emerged as Derek Carr’s safety blanket in Jon Gruden’s offense as he is used to terrorize opposing defenses by exploiting matchups with his rare combination of size and speed. DT Clinton McDonald glad he ended up with RaidersDespite only being picked up off the street after Justin Ellis and PJ Hall’s injuries, the former Bronco played 52 of 64 defensive snaps scoring four tackles in the Raiders loss. Mcdonald demonstrated versatility by moving across the line, mostly rushing from the nose tackle or the 3 technique position.Raiders week 2 Ballers & Busters vs Broncos - Silver And Black PrideAfter the Raiders second half collapse against the Rams Ted Hendricks Jersey
, it was off to Denver鈥here they had a second half collapse. There was some progress though. Or it would appear. This time they only blew a...Raiders call up Shilique Calhoun from the practice squad, drop DT Brian Price - Silver And Black PrideTwo weeks ago, the Raiders claimed Brian Price off waivers from the Cowboys and released former 7th round pick Treyvon Hester. It was a questionable move considering Hester had a promising first...Raiders Week 3 Power Rankings Round-Up: Oakland drops again - Silver And Black PrideAn 0-2 start never is treated well in the NFL power rankings put out by media outlets across the internet. Considering where the team had already started out in these power rankings, it’s no...Oakland Raiders set for Week 3 battle in Miami against the DolphinsAs the Raiders go to Miami in Week 3, they look to upset the undefeated Dolphins who just defeated the Jets in Week 2. This game has larger historical implications as the Dolphins trail the Raiders, 17-16- 1, in the all-time regular season series. This is a game we can’t afford to lose in more ways than one. AFC West Phillip Lindsay has third best Offensive Rookie of the Year oddsAccording to a recently updated line for Offensive Rookie of the Year by Odd Shark, the undrafted Denver native Phillip Lindsay now has the third best odds of all rookies. This is exciting news for Broncos fans because they potentially have an exciting new talent, but it is disappointing news for the Raiders as they potentially have another dangerous running back in their division.Von Miller and Shaq Barrett named to PFF’s Team of the WeekAfter barely missing a spot in their Team of the Week last week, Miller was able to secure his position after making garnering a sack and two hurries as a pass-rusher against the Raiders. Barrett was able to secure his position as a special teamer. Chiefs film review: How the defense blitzed and Patrick Mahomes continued to impressPat Mahomes continues to look absolutely fantastic as he set an NFL record with 10 touchdown passes in the first two games of this season.On defense, after getting burned by Rothlisberger when they failed to disguise their blitzes, the Chiefs shifted toward volume blitzes that forced quicker passes which disrupted the offense and forced shorter passes.The 2018 Chiefs offense isn’t just good; it’s sustainableAndy Reids brilliant offensive scheme has been on display with his mix of West Coast and spread offense that “. . . flawlessly rotates between a vertical spacing offense, a West Coast timing offense and zone-beating route combinations”. Derwin James: Chargers’ 2018 sack leader?While in the limited sample of two games Dave Casper Jersey
, Derwin James has been outstanding with the Chargers. However, according to Pro Football Focus, James actually has the highest pass-rushing grade from the entire 2018 draft class with an 81.5 grade. Considering the Raiders pass rush woe and lack of talent at the safety position, the Raiders might live to regret passing on Derwin James. Chargers DT Corey Liuget sues trainer over 4-game suspensionLos Angeles Chargers defensive tackle Corey Liuget is suing his trainer for no less than $15 million in damages who he argues is responsible for Liuget’s four-game suspension for using a performance-enhancing substance.NFL News NFL Power Rankings, Week 3: Rams, Jaguars take top two spotsWeek 2 helped give a better understanding of who is emerging as the powerhouses of the NFL this season. Tomlin confirms Antonio Brown’s Monday absenceAfter clapping to a former Steelers employee on Twitter who insinuated that Brown wouldn’t have been as successful on another team without Rothlisberger, the drama deepens as their star receiver did not show up at the team’s facility for work on Monday. Tomlinson denies all of the rumors of an actual trade request by Brown. Offensive player rankings, Week 3: Tom Brady, Gronkowski fallWith two weeks under the bag in the NFL season, there have been a lot of fantastic stories like the return of Fitzmagic, the emergence of Lindsay, and the rapid development of Patrick Mahomes. This ranks these offensive players in terms of their impact and talent.