Tight end Darren Waller returns to practice for Raiders

HENDERSON, Nev. (AP) — Las Vegas tight end Darren Waller was one of several key players who returned to practice for the Raiders on Wednesday.

Waller had been out since late last month for undisclosed reasons. He told The Associated Press recently at a WNBA game for the Las Vegas Aces that he was working through some things, was progressing and that he expected to return to practice this week.

The Raiders got several other important players back with four being taken off the physically unable to perform list with cornerback Trayvon Mullen, defensive tackles Bilal Nichols and Johnathan Hankins, and receiver Dillon Stoner on the field for practice for the first time this summer.

Projected starting cornerback Rock Ya-Sin also returned to practice Wednesday after missing time with an undisclosed injury.

Waller had been seen more at Aces games of late than with the Raiders, including on Sunday when he watched the WNBA team's regular-season finale at the same time the Raiders hosted the Vikings in an exhibition game.

“I think he was over there before our game started, which is, I understand that. He wasn’t going to play today, so, I don’t want to make more of that than it was,” coach Josh McDaniels said after the game.

Waller is one of the top tight ends in the league, but is looking for a new contract. Waller’s current deal averages $7.5 million per year.

Waller is set to make just under $14 million the next two seasons with no guaranteed money left on his deal.

Nonetheless, Waller told reporters on July 23 he was focused on playing and was letting his agent handle the business side of things.

“Whatever is going on there is whatever’s going on there,” he said. “But whatever the outcome is of that, I’m here and I’m playing.”

Waller ranks second among all tight ends since 2019 with 252 receptions and 3,006 yards receiving. He was limited to 11 games last year because of injuries but is being counted on as a key part of a passing offense that also includes All-Pro receiver Davante Adams and slot receiver Hunter Renfrow.

Waller has said throughout training camp he is excited about playing under McDaniels, in a system that is challenging him with new roles.

“It allows us to do some new fun things, and yeah, I’m very excited about the way they’re pushing me, the way that they’re challenging me to show up for the team,” Waller added three weeks ago. “It’s expanding every day and what more could you ask for?”

NOTE: The Raiders announced they’ve acquired a conditional 2024 seventh-round draft pick via a trade with the Tennessee Titans. As part of the trade terms, Las Vegas is sending safety Tyree Gillespie to the Titans.

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