Former Georgia Tech wide receiver Darren Waller is making a strong bid to make the 53-man roster for the Baltimore Ravens. He caught three passes for 21 yards, including the Ravens’ first touchdown in their 40-17 loss to Philadelphia last Saturday.
“Your first touchdown, you dream of that kind of stuff,” Waller told the Baltimore Sun. “Of course, I’d like to see the team do better, but I appreciate those guys blocking on the perimeter, making that moment happen.”
The touchdown, a seven-yard score, showed some noticeable playmaking ability on Waller’s part. Just off the line of scrimmage, he stretched his 6-foot-6 frame to bring down quarterback Bryn Renner’s pass and then fought his way into the end zone through two Eagles defenders.
Further, Waller was targeted four additional times, plays that either were incompletions or wiped out by penalty. It finished what the Sun described as a “strong week of practice” for him. He has particularly developed a rapport with backup quarterback Matt Schaub, once a Falcons draft pick out of Virginia.
“I’ve been getting to work with him and run all kinds of different routes for him,” Waller told the Sun. “We’re just kind of getting a good feel for each other, and it’s paying off.”
The connection with Schaub obviously gives Waller a better chance to make the team, as it’s giving more opportunities to make plays in practice and in preseason games.
As for his chances, there are 12 receivers on the camp roster. A team will typically keep six on the 53-man roster. Of the 12, five are rookies. One of them, first-rounder Breshad Perriman, is an obvious lock. The rest are undrafted free agents.
An ESPN.com article posted late last week said there are four “perceived locks” – Steve Smith, Perriman, Kamar Aiken and Marlon Brown, although the former Georgia star has been injured and missed time in camp. Michael Campanaro, though he missed the second game with injury, is highly likely take the fifth spot. That leaves Waller competing with Jeremy Butler, who made the team last year as an undrafted rookie but didn’t play, and DeAndre Carter, an undrafted rookie who has had a strong preseason. Tom Nelson, who played three years in the NFL as a safety but was signed just before the Ravens opened camp as a receiver, is also reportedly making a strong bid.
This figures to go down to the fourth and final preseason game. My guess is, even if he doesn’t, he’d make the practice squad.