Raiders activate WR Hunter Renfrow, TE Darren Waller off IR

ByPaul Gutierrez ESPN logo
Sunday, December 18, 2022

HENDERSON, Nev. -- The Las Vegas Raiders activated two Pro Bowlers off injured reserve Saturday, tight end Darren Waller (left hamstring) and slot receiver Hunter Renfrow (oblique), in time for Sunday's home game against the New England Patriots at Allegiant Stadium.

While both players signed contract extensions this offseason, the Raiders have had both active in the same game just three times this season and not since Week 5. Expected to be a major part of first-year coach Josh McDaniels' offense, the two have instead combined to catch 37 passes and one touchdown in a combined 11 games, after Waller had a franchise-record 107 catches with nine TDs in 2020 and Renfrow caught 103 passes and nine scores last season.

Renfrow said earlier this week the Raiders, who are 5-8, have to lean on last season's experience of winning four straight to end the season and force their way into the playoffs.

"It was an awesome little run we had but we didn't win four by trying to win four; we won four by trying to win one and then just piling up on top of each other," said Renfrow, who last played in Week 9 and has 21 catches for 192 yards without a score. His fumble against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 2 resulted in a 59-yard scoop-and-score walkoff loss as Renfrow was concussed on the play and missed the next two games.

"That's the big thing this week."

Renfrow's extension was worth $32 million over two years, with $21 million guaranteed.

Waller, meanwhile, said he leaned on last year's personal experience, when he had to fight dark thoughts as he was sidelined, to get through this round of inactivity.

"This time, you don't really question your value or your worth, just because you're not out there," said Waller, who has been open about his battle for sobriety. "It's up to you to know who you are and to feel good about yourself, whether things are going the way you want them to or whether they're not. I feel like I've grown in that."

Waller, who last played in Week 5, has 16 catches for 175 yards and a TD. He has missed 13 of the Raiders' past 19 regular season games, dating to last season, when he dealt with knee and back injuries. He also was out during camp this summer for a bit with a right hamstring issue.

He signed a three-year, $51 million extension near the end of camp.

In corresponding moves, the Raiders have released WR DJ Turner and TE Jacob Hollister, while promoting OT Sebastian Gutierrez and G Jordan Meredith from the practice squad for Sunday's game.