Daryl Worley faced his fair share of adversity in 2018.
The former West Virginia Mountaineer started his career with the Oakland Raiders suspended, missing the first four games of the season. It was a tough blow for the former second-round pick who had been released by the Philadelphia Eagles four months prior.
However, when Worley took the field during the Raiders’ Week 5 bout against the Los Angeles Chargers, he came ready to play. The then-23-year-old notched eight tackles, including two tackles for loss, which was the second most on the team that day. Worley would go on to carve out a quality role for himself in Defensive Coordinator Paul Guenther’s system, but it all came to a halt during the team’s Week 14 battle with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Worley suffered a shoulder injury during the game, and that moment was one Coach Jon Gruden still has fresh in his memory.
“His shoulder popped out of socket, I can still see Worley on the sideline trying to knock his shoulder back into place and keep playing,” Gruden told the media Tuesday. “He’s a tough guy, he’s also had some adversity in his career but I got a lot of respect for the way a man can get up off the ground and dust himself off given another opportunity and that’s what [Richie] Incognito is doing, and that’s what Worley is doing and that’s what the Raiders are here to help them do.”
Worley was subsequently placed on the Injured Reserve list later that week, thus ending his 2018 campaign. No one wants to get hurt, but being injured on the sideline gave No. 20 a different perspective in regards to Guenther’s system.
“Yes, definitely,” Worley said when asked if the time on the sideline helped him. “Just being on the sideline when you know what’s going on and guys are doing certain things, you begin to study, and it becomes a lot more clear to you.”
Despite experiencing some lows, Worley proved that he can be a foundation player on the Raiders roster, and established himself as a feature corner on the defense opposite Gareon Conley. At only 24 years of age, Worley has plenty of talent and youth to build on entering 2019.
“It just sets the bar high,” Worley said when asked about his coaches’ confidence in him. “You’ll be able to hit the ground running. When we got back here in the Spring, we all talked with coaches, we knew what was going to be expected of us, so being able to come in and just take off from where we left off, but it was a great high point.”
With the support of his coaches – along with being fully healthy – Worley is ready for big things in 2019, and knows that in order for the Raiders to succeed a lot will fall on he and Conley’s shoulders. The Silver and Black gave up 240.8 passing yards per game last season – good for 19th in the league – and the duo will face plenty of talented receivers once again in the AFC West; however, they’ll be able to train daily against one of the best in the league, Antonio Brown.
“He’s a guy that plays at a high clip,” Worley said. “If you were to watch him just catch a simple slant, he takes it all the way to the end zone. He wants to score each and every play, so he’s definitely a high-level competitor and we talked to him before practice started and everything and the one thing he wanted to say was that we all need to get better. Not only is he going to make us better by being one of the best receivers in the league, but we are also going to make him better because we are all different players at the end of the day.”
Far removed from his release, suspension, and injury, Worley is ready to tackle the 2019 season with a full head of steam. He’ll be given plenty of room to flourish and if he can stay healthy, the expectation is that Worley should enjoy a breakout campaign.
Time will tell.