Camp ’22: Walker ready for contact
JACKSONVILLE– He expects Sunday.
That’s true for most Jaguars players, especially rookies – and it’s damn true for outside linebacker Travon Walker, a physical player who has impressed since joining the Jaguars and is now looking forward to hitting professionally for the first time.
Sunday is the first padded practice of training camp 2022.
And that makes it a big day for the No. 1 overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft.
“I’m really ready to step into the pads now because I haven’t had one for so long, since the national championship,” said Walker, who played collegiately for 2022 national champion Georgia. “To finally really hit somebody and be as physical as possible…I’m ready to get back to that.”
Since being selected first overall in late April, Walker has impressed coaches and teammates with his approach, knowledge of the game, strength and size.
“We like him more now because we know the person now,” defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell said. “We know the player, we see the player on film. The person, his work ethic, what he talks about off the pitch, that’s what we love about him.
“We can’t wait to take him further, put him in the pads and see him progress.”
His teammates were also impressed with inside linebacker Foye Oluokun – who signed with the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent in March – calling Walker “eager to learn” and “naturally gifted”.
“If he keeps a motor high, the sky’s the limit for him,” said Oluokun, who led the NFL in tackles last season with the Atlanta Falcons. “Obviously when we put pads on and get into the game we can see how that engine works. He’s a naturally gifted guy with a cool demeanor, but I’m sure he has a lot of aggression in him. . I’m delighted to see him working.”
Walker, like many young Jaguars defensemen, has done significant extra work after practice with fourth-year veteran Josh Allen — first in the offseason program and now in training camp. It’s a relationship that has quickly become important to both players, with Walker saying on Wednesday “I’m so grateful to have Josh.”
“He’s still young, he can identify with me, he’s been in my place,” Walker said. “He just taught me everything he knows, and that’s a lot of knowledge that I need to get into the league. It’s very important.”
Allen and Walker — along with other young Jaguars passing throwers — shortly before the 1922 camp opened worked with former Indianapolis Colts All-Pro passing thrower Robert Mathis.
“I learned a lot from him,” Walker said. “One of the main things he said to me was, ‘Be patient. Everything will come. Once I start realizing the little things in my movements, it all starts to come together from there. .’ “I was always trying to work on my hand-eye coordination. It all starts with my start. If I leave the ball, the offensive linemen will have to commit to me at some point, so I let my fluidity and my speed work by themselves.
“One thing I can say about the NFL is a lot of different players do a lot of different things. It’s just that I’m the type of person to pick things, pick people’s brains, to find the things that I can do for myself. Not everyone will be able to do the same thing, but I can take a small detail and put it into my game.”
Walker said he focused on that in the early days with no padding in camp. He said he understood the defensive patterns better than he did during the offseason program, and that perhaps the trickiest part of camp was getting enough rest.
“Sneaking in on that little 30-minute nap between meetings and things like that,” he said with a smile, adding of his transition to the NFL: “It’s been fine, getting acclimated to the heat, to be back on the court with all the guys, it’s all coming back full speed ahead. I’m definitely comfortable. It’s just with me, I’m the type of person to take it as it is.
“I’m just going to keep trying to advance anything in life.”
Jaguars Press offensive coordinator Taylor on projected role of wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr.: “It’s fluid. It goes from week to week. You want to showcase his skills, and his skills are that he’s a great ball carrier. There are ways to give it to him, toss it to him, to throw it to him in the flat. Inside of that you have to complete whatever you do. He’s got the ability, he’s got the speed to still get down the field and make a few plays. As long as it fits the package and to the things that we’re trying to build around him, we plan to use him when he’s there and he gets the chance.”