A case could be made that Darren Waller was the breakout star of the 2019 NFL season, almost coming out of nowhere to catch 90 passes for 1,145 yards and five touchdowns.
The challenge now is improving on what he did last year despite facing defenses that are game-planning to stop him.
As far as Waller is concerned, it’s the little things that will be the key. The basics.
“I would probably just say improvements on fundamentals,” Waller said. “Just keep building on that front, not being too worried about making huge plays all the time or doing spectacular things.”
In other words, focus on the same items he stressed ahead of his breakout season last year.
“I felt like I got better by focusing on the simple things,” Waller said. “Letting those things stack and turning it into consistency. … I can get the big-picture things, but my mind can stray from the small details at times. So, it’s just staying on them at all times.”
Waller also could benefit from the veteran presence of tight end Jason Witten, whom the Raiders signed to be a sage voice for a young team.
“It’s already helping out a lot,” Waller said. “Just being around him, I’m like, ‘I want to get off the ball like him.’ He always has suggestions. He’s always asking questions about the offense and in return, as he’s learned more, he’s helping us with what we see and things we can do different.”
Darren Waller: His numbers might not be as high as last season due to a rebuilt roster, but impact could be just as significant.
Foster Moreau: Was on his way as a rookie last year with five touchdown catches and 21 receptions, but a knee injury cut short his season.
Jason Witten: The Raiders still believe Witten can be an on-field factor, and they are counting on him to be a veteran voice on a young team.
Derek Carrier: The Raiders value his blocking and ability on special teams.