|08-09-2007, 04:07 AM||#1|
Join Date: Apr 2006
Transition time in Walker's career
Wideout just here to help in second season with Broncos
By Bill Williamson
Denver Post Staff Writer
It is a year of transition for Javon Walker. While Walker has tucked away the personal side of his life, he is focused on evolving as a football player.
The Broncos wide receiver plans to change what he does on the field in this, his sixth NFL season, including being more vocal with his teammates, particularly the younger receivers. Last year, in his first season in Denver after a trade from Green Bay, Walker was trying to acclimate himself to a new world as well as to rehabilitate from a torn ACL he suffered the year before. In this year's training camp, Walker said he feels more comfortable to open up and help in any way he can.
"It's important for me to be able to talk to the guys and help them out," Walker said Wednesday. "My career is changing in that way. Rod (Smith) helped me out last year and I had guys help me when I was younger. It's time for me to work with the young guys. I'm here to encourage everyone as much as possible. It's part of my job here."
While Walker is becoming more vocal and visible on the field, his personal life remains off limits. Walker has declined to comment about the death of Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams, who was shot and killed Jan. 1 while sitting next to Walker in a rented limousine in a drive-by shooting near downtown Denver. Walker is expected to break his silence about Williams' death on a segment of HBO's "Real Sports," to be shown Tuesday night.
Whatever feelings Walker has, he is brimming to let it loose on the field. Call it a coping mechanism of dealing with an unfathomable tragedy, or call it the maturation of a player comfortable in new surroundings.
Whatever it is, Walker seems primed.
"It's going to be a big year," Walker said after he participated in hot afternoon practice in which many veterans sat out."There's something I want bad. ... It's winning. It's winning the Super Bowl. That's what I want."
He is doing his best to make that happen in camp. He has been one of the stars, seemingly making a highlight-reel catch or two every practice.
Last year when the Broncos got Walker in a draft day trade, Denver was just happy to get a Pro Bowl-caliber player. But it didn't know much about Walker's habits, even through a comeback season in which he caught 69 passes for 1,084 yards and had eight touchdown catches.
Still, the team didn't know how Walker worked in the offseason. Now it does. Walker set the tone for this season in the offseason conditioning program.
"The guy really works at it," coach Mike Shanahan said. "He is a star player, but he really has been impressive in how hard he works and he works with the young guys."
Broncos general manager Ted Sundquist said Walker has emerged as a leader.
"He's a leader in the film room and on the field," Sundquist said. "That stood out."
With Smith out due to hip injury - there is no timetable for his return - Walker's transition into a mentor has come at a needed time. There is a good chance three second-year receivers - Brandon Marshall, Domenik Hixon and Brian Clark - will be on the roster.
"Javon is an easy guy to go up and ask questions to," Hixon said. "He's been there. He knows what he's talking about."
Walker, who will turn 29 in October, said it's time to give back on the field. As a young player in Green Bay, he said he could lean on several people, including his receivers coach, Ray Sherman, and safety Darren Sharper. Both were there for Walker early in his career with Green Bay, where he played from 2002-05. Both remain a big part of his life. Walker said Sharper, now with Minnesota, called him this week, and Sherman, now as assistant with Dallas, dialed up Walker on Wednesday.
"That means a lot to me, for years, to keep seeing how I'm doing," Walker said. "Now, it's my turn."