Tight End Clive Walford
After a quality rookie season, tight end Clive Walford was looking forward to getting back on the field this spring, but a knee injury suffered during the offseason rendered him unable to participate in a majority of the Raiders' Offseason Workout Program.
Now, with training camp finally here, Walford is ready to get back to work, and he's excited to move on from the injury that kept him off the field the past several months.
"Everybody knows I had a couple of bumps in the road that I've been trying to overcome," said Walford after arriving at the team's Napa Valley Training Complex. "I've been excited this whole time, trying to get back up, just so I can go to work."
The imposing tight end said he's ready to hit the field, but will defer to Head Coach Jack Del Rio and the coaching staff for when they feel comfortable letting him return to practice. That being said, with his injury squarely in the rearview mirror, Walford now sees the hiccup as a learning experience, albeit a frustrating one.
"That just shows you that the grind never stops," Walford said. "There's always things that you have to overcome whenever you're faced with adversity, so that's just something I have to deal with."
And not only that, he's using some of the criticism and critiquing he's been subjected to from the media as motivation to return to form.
"That's exactly what I've been doing, man," Walford explained. "A lot of people [have] been doubting me, especially when they found out what happened. There was just a whole bunch of criticism. I've just been taking it, using it as motivation, so I've been working hard. When I do hit the field, you guys will see it."
Spearheaded by quarterback Derek Carr, and wide receivers Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper on the outside, the Raiders appear poised to boast an impressive offensive attack in 2016. If Walford, who finished the season as the team's main pass-catching tight end, can elevate his game to another level, it would make the team's offense all the more potent.
After missing a majority of Training Camp 2015, the University of Miami-product showed consistent improvement throughout the regular season, finishing his rookie year with 28 catches for 329 yards and three touchdowns, and even with missing time this offseason, pundits around the league feel like No. 88 is primed for a breakout season in 2016.
However, as nice as the accolades are, Walford doesn't take them to heart, instead focusing just on the things he can control.
"To be honest, I've been self-motivated since I was young," Walford said. "Everybody has their own opinions, and I'm just going to continue to do what I've been doing, working hard, and hopefully my hard work shows when I'm out on the field."
As he prepares for his sophomore season in Silver and Black, much will be expected from Clive Walford, but the dual-threat tight end is confident that 2016 will prove to be a good year for him. He has no doubts about that.
"I feel like because this is my second year, the game will slow down for me, being able to read defenses better, read the field better, it'll all come together," Walford said. "You guys will see it."