Giants tight end Darren Waller making good impression on new team

Darren Waller Giants
Darren Waller Giants (Kyle Sweeting, amNew York)

East Rutherford, NJ — With OTAs underway, the Giants have a few notable players who are not in attendance. However, of the players that are here, nobody is commanding more attention than new starting tight end Darren Waller. 

Acquired from the Las Vegas Raiders in March, Waller has immediately made an impression on his new teammates, sometimes without having to do much of anything. 

“You head about most guys or you see them in the program and they’re listed at 6’6″, and they’re really like 6’4″ or 6’5,” said Giants starting quarterback Daniel Jones. “He’s a true 6’6″. He’s a true 250, 260 [pounds] and can fly…He’s just an impressive athlete.”  

“You can feel his presence,” added starting safety Xavier McKinney. 

However, despite his commanding physical presence, what has most impressed his teammates is the way he approaches the mental side of the game as well.

“He’s just been locked in,” explained Jones. “You can tell it’s important to him. He’s put a lot of effort into learning the stuff and getting caught up. It’s been fun working with him.”

For Waller, who Jones referred to as “a real deep-thinking guy,” the challenge of learning a system as intricate as the Giants’ is a welcome challenge. 

“It requires you to know everything that’s going on on the field, not just have yourself fixed in one spot,” explained Waller. “You need to know the whole picture of the offense. Why the quarterback’s looking in a certain direction, why you need to be in a certain window at a certain time. It forces you to move fast, think fast, and I love challenges. That’s what I like the most about it.”

Darren Waller Giants
Darren Waller at Giants OTAs (Kyle Sweeting, amNew York)

This certainly isn’t the first challenge Waller has faced. His past struggle with drug addiction has been well-documented and things didn’t end on the best of terms with the Raiders, but Waller sees his time with the Giants as another chapter. 

“I view this season as an opportunity to get back to having fun and just being available for my teammates every and each week,” he said. “That’s something I haven’t been able to do the last couple years, and I’m fully aware of that.”

For Waller, the main focus of OTAs is not just about learning his new offense but also learning about his new teammates.

“Priorities for me is just putting time in, learning the system. Putting time in building relationships with guys. That’s the thing that’s really the foundation for where you’re trying to go,” he admitted. “Things only stack on top of that. I feel like you only go as far as your knowledge because, if you don’t know that, you can’t play fast, and you can’t respond to what a defense is trying to do. If you don’t have relationships with guys, adversity is going to hit during the season, and guys might start pointing fingers and blaming, and you can’t have that. Guys got to stick together.” 

His focus on building true connections with his teammates is something they’ve noticed and taken to heart. 

“You can tell he cares about the relationships he has with guys on the team and is extremely humble and authentic in who he is,” said Jones. “I have a ton of respect for that and who he is as a person, as a teammate.” 

It also doesn’t hurt that having him as a teammate is going to make the Giants’ offense that much harder to defend. 

“He’s obviously a tough matchup for people, for defenses,” said Jones. “With a guy who can run like that with that kind of size, and how you play him in man and how you account for him in zone coverages. He definitely gives something for a defense to worry about or to game plan for, and we can move him around and put him in different spots. Just a super versatile player.”

However, that performance on the field is something that Waller knows will come with time. For now, he’s just embracing the new environment he finds himself in. 

“Not a lot of people get to say they play football in a market like this or a city like this with people as passionate as this fan base is,” Waller explained. “It’s all about your perspective. Whether you look at it as it’s scary or you look at it as a great opportunity. I view it as a great opportunity.” 

It also doesn’t hurt that he feels a freedom with the Giants that he hasn’t felt in other places. 

“This is a really light place, a really fun place, really empowering place in a way, where you just be yourself in all ways. As a player, I feel like, a lot of places I’ve gone, you’re told to do things a certain way, but here, they ask a lot of questions. They want to know what you’re thinking, what do you like to do more. So, to offer input is a really cool thing because the coach and players have got to be in partnership. We’re all together. We shouldn’t be clashing with each other. We’re all going in the same direction.”

The Giants hope that direction is to a second consecutive playoff appearance. 

For more Giants coverage, visit amNY Sports

Darren Waller at Giants OTAs
Darren Waller and Lawrence Cager at Giants OTAs (Kyle Sweeting, amNew York)