The New England Patriots might be facing an upgraded Las Vegas Raiders offense on Sunday. Their Week 15 opponent, after all, has designated two of its best players to return from injured reserve: tight end Darren Waller and wide receiver Hunter Renfrow will be back at practice on Wednesday, opening a 21-day window to be reactivated off IR.
While that alone does not guarantee that either of the two will play against the Patriots, it does open the door for a return ahead of the 4:05 p.m. ET kickoff on Sunday.
Waller, 30, has been out since Week 5. Before he was sidelined with a hamstring issue, the NFL’s highest-paid tight end was on the field for 61 percent of Las Vegas’ offensive snaps and caught 16 passes for 175 yards and one touchdown.
Renfrow, 26, was forced to sit out the previous five games with an oblique injury. He was on the field for 69 percent of snaps before the ailment, catching 21 passes for 192 yards in six games.
Adding both to an offense already featuring wide receiver Davante Adams and running back Josh Jacobs — two of the best players at their respective positions — would make the unit even tougher to defend. As it stands right now, Las Vegas is ranked 11th in the NFL in scoring (23.7 points/game) and eighth in yards (361.9/game).
“I don’t think you’ve really seen what the Raiders are actually able to do — and maybe we’ll see it this week — as far as the injuries are concerned,” said Patriots linebackers coach Jerod Mayo earlier this week.
“Waller’s probably coming back, and Renfrow’s probably coming back. They have Jacobs, they have Adams on the outside, and [quarterback Derek] Carr. This will probably be the first time in a long time that these guys are actually pretty healthy. It’ll be a huge challenge for us, and hopefully the guys are up to the task.”