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Raiders-Packers Q&A: Darren Waller emerges as star tight end

Levi Damien of SB Nation’s Oakland Raiders blog Silver and Black Pride answers our questions about the Raiders.

Oakland Raiders v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images

On Sunday, the Green Bay Packers face the Oakland Raiders for the first time of the second Jon Gruden era. Levi Damien of Silver and Black Pride kindly volunteered to answer our questions about the Raiders and provide some insight into their strengths and weaknesses.

APC: Darren Waller started his career as a mostly anonymous wide receiver with the Ravens and has developed into a standout tight end and leading pass catcher for the Raiders. What changed for Waller over the last few years and what has his development meant for the Oakland offense?

What changed was he stopped doing drugs. Plain and simple, as he said on Hard Knocks, he was high basically every day for a couple years. It had him suspended several times. It says something about his immense talent that despite his issues with substance abuse that the Ravens kept bringing him back in on the hope he could kick his addiction and live up to his potential. Unfortunately for them, they didn’t see it happen sooner or they would have protected him from being poached off their practice squad. Now the Raiders are reaping the benefits of the Ravens’ efforts. Waller has been a Godsend for the Raiders offense. The team’s top receivers this season were supposed to be Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams, JJ Nelson, and Ryan Grant. Only one of them remains (Williams) and he has been injured, including missing last week’s win over the Bears. Waller’s receiving abilities have been invaluable in the face of the receiving corps issues just as Jared Cook was last season as the team’s leading receiver.

We’d like to thank Levi. Be sure to check out the rest of our Q&A session with Silver and Black Pride over the course of the week as well as our Q&A session over there. As always, keep your internet machines tuned to Acme Packing Company this Sunday for our comprehensive game-day coverage of Raiders versus Packers.