Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio sat down for his weekly news conference Monday and placed a small sheet of white paper on the table in front of him. Among the things written on that paper, Del Rio later said, was the name of backup tight end Clive Walford. “He’s the first guy I wrote down on here to talk about,” Del Rio said. Walford, an afterthought on the Raiders’ offense most of this season, had his most productive game in Sunday’s 24-17 win over the Giants. The third-year tight end caught four passes for 57 yards. Entering the game, he’d had three catches for 10 yards all season. “He’s been patient all year,” Del Rio said. “Obviously, it’s tough. We brought in Jared (Cook) and Jared has a big role. A lot of those things are things that Clive can do well. (Sunday) we called on him in a bigger role and he responded and had a nice game.” A third-round pick from Miami in 2015, Walford was the primary pass-catching tight end the past two seasons in an Oakland offense that didn’t target the position often. Walford had 28 catches for 329 yards and three touchdowns as a rookie. He returned from an offseason ATV accident to record 33 catches for 359 yards and three touchdowns last season. The Raiders ranked 28th in the NFL last season in receptions by tight ends and 30th in receiving yards. In March, they agreed to a two-year, $12.2 million deal with Cook, who quickly has become one of Derek Carr’s favorite targets. Cook leads the Raiders in receptions (43) and receiving yards (546), and with Lee Smith as the primary blocking tight end, Walford’s playing time dwindled. After playing nearly 63 percent of the Raiders’ offensive snaps in 2016, Walford has played 16.6 percent this season.
Raiders tight end Clive Walford emerges from season-long ‘waiting game’
San Francisco Chronicle | Dec 6