Tensions ran pretty high last week in the joint practices between the Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots. There were reports of several scuffles that involved the ejections of players from both teams from the practice field. Before the preseason game even began, tempers nearly got the better of the players and they had to be separated.
During the game, a Patriots defender was flagged for a late hit on Jordan Love, who slid to the ground for a first down. Several Packers players took exception (understandably so) and players needed to be escorted to their respective huddles.
Of course, all tensions were forgotten as the teams came together in the wake of the injury suffered by Patriots rookie cornerback Isaiah Bolden. A relatively tense week had a somber ending. However, in the midst of the the scraps and ejections, one Packers player’s name was noticeably missing: Quay Walker.
The Chippy Week with the New England Patriots Indicates Growth for Green Bay Packers Linebacker Quay Walker
Quay Walker, of course, was the first player the Packers took in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. He was a starter from Day One and put together a very respectable rookie season. Walker finished the year with 121 total tackles, 1.5 sacks, seven passes defended, and three forced fumbles.
Unfortunately, solid production is not what Walker’s rookie campaign will be remembered for. On two occasions, he made the decision to make aggressive contact with non-player personnel from other teams. One instance happened against the Buffalo Bills and the other against the Detroit Lions.
Back in May, linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti addressed Walker’s reputation and what they have been working on with him to improve his temper on the field:
“Those conversations are ongoing and he’s more than willing to learn from all his mistakes, especially those. Obviously, you can’t have that, and he understands that.”
In other words, the Packers and Walker were in contact throughout the offseason to discuss ways in which he can avoid those situations again.
Walker himself addressed his reputation and his approach to the season in a recent interview:
“To be honest with you, this entire offseason I thought about the two ejections. It was hard giving myself grace on that, but at the same time, I’ve moved past it. The past is the past, and I’m just ready to move forward and just learn from it. Of course I can say that, but I have to do it by my actions. So I’m just ready to go from there.
“I just talked to myself, meditating as well, talking to Dr. Carr, just being more open, just going from there. I was a person that was real, real closed in, with all my thoughts and everything like that, with the stuff I had going on, but that ain’t really got anything to do with what took place. But those were the things I did over the offseason to prepare me to not make those same mistakes over again.
“I know most teams will label me a hothead, so I kind of am already preparing for what’s going to happen and things like that. So I’ve just got to be ready for everything that’s going to come. I know it’s going to come Week 1, with it being a rivalry game [against the Bears]. Every week, teams will try to go at me, so I’m already preparing for it.”
Whatever he did and continues to do seems to be working. Not only was he not named as one of the players involved in fights during joint practices with the Patriots, but he also was not involved in any that broke out when the Packers held joint practices with the Cincinnati Bengals.
This is something that has flown under the radar, but should be celebrated more. The best thing that Walker can do after his controversial rookie season is to improve himself. And he has done that and will continue to do so.