The Oakland Raiders selected tight end Clive Walford in the third round of last year's draft with the expectations he would grow to be a big-time playmaker for there young franchise quarterback, Derek Carr.
Walford jumped out to a good start during last year's offseason workouts, though suffered an injury and missed much of his rookie training camp setting him back. Walford wound up hauling in 28 receptions for 329 yards and three touchdowns during his rookie career.
The Raiders are looking for their young tight end to take a big step forward in his second year, but Walford suffered an injury while riding an ATV early in the offseason. At first, he didn't think it was that bad but quickly realized it was an injury that would set him back a little.
“Believe it or not, when the accident first happened, I didn’t realize how serious it was until I got to the hospital," Walford said. "So, I thought maybe I just need some stiches. They told me I was going to be out for a while, so I had to inform the team and that’s what it was.”
The former University of Miami alum wound up missing all of the offseason workouts, but was back and ready to go for the Raiders first training camp practice on Friday.
“Clive was able to also begin work today and we see him as a real key player in our offense," Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. "Glad to have him back doing his thing.”
Raiders offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave is happy to have him back on the field as he knows just how dangerous Walford can be when healthy. He also knows he will benefit from any reps he gets since he missed time during both his offseasons.
“Well it’s crucial because we missed a lot of time with Clive over the last number of months," Musgrave said on Saturday. "Even this time last year, he was on the shelf. So it’s good to have him out there, again, for Derek and the quarterbacks to have a feel for the way he runs his routes. Where to place the ball. Haul in a tested catch, that type of thing. Great to have him out there. He has a lot of ability, so we’re looking for him to be a big part of what we do.”
Already with wide receivers like Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, quarterback Derek Carr knows just how important his tight end can be. Though Walford didn't have a huge impact last season, the young quarterback is ready to build chemistry with Walford because of the potential he sees.
"He’s such a weapon," Carr said of Walford. "We saw in the little that he played, he’s very productive. Making big plays, explosive gains down the middle."
Walford agrees, knowing that he needs to get on the same page with his quarterback.
“It was a great thing that I had the opportunity to play with him last year," Walford says. "During the offseason, when the coaches and some of the training staff allowed me to, I went out with him and caught some balls. So, I think the chemistry is still there, I just have to get back into football shape."