Walker Will Be Hard To Unseat

Left tackle determined to keep his starting job.

Rasheed Walker refuses to become an afterthought.  He will not accept the role of interim caretaker of the coveted left tackle position for the Green Bay Packers.  He’s had to fight, scratch and claw for every opportunity to play, and he intends to keep playing.  The fact the Packers used their first round draft choice on a left tackle is not going to change his resolve.  In fact, it may strengthen it. 

“He’s come in with the right mindset,” Matt LaFleur told the beat writers.  “’Sheed didn’t say anything after the draft.  He just came in and got to work, and that’s what we’re looking for.” 

No one on the team is surprised.  The former Penn State standout is one of the hardest workers on the team.  He’s had to be.  Coming out of college as a redshirt junior, he was passed over through six rounds of the NFL draft.  The Packers finally called his name with the 249th pick in the seventh round.  Green Bay had four selections in the final round that year, and Walker was the third of those four selections.  Most teams are just throwing darts at players with good measurables at that stage of the draft, hoping to hit on a diamond in the rough.  Walker was determined to be that diamond. 

It took patience.  The 24 year old made the team, but never saw the field as the season unfolded.  Finally, he received a December 25th Christmas present when he actually got to play in a week sixteen victory over the Dolphins.  He played four special teams snaps.  That was it.  That was his season. 

Some players might have given up, but Walker came back even more determined in 2023.  Nobody likes to further his career at the expense of injury to a fellow player, but in pro football it’s a fact of life that many stellar careers begin that way.  So it was with Rasheed.  When the Packers decided it was time to move on from David Bakhtiari, due largely to his nagging injury issues, the team needed somebody to step up at left tackle.  Even then, Walker had stiff competition for the job.  The team had been grooming Yosh Nijman to man that spot on the offensive line for more than a year.  Throughout the season, Walker could not win the coaches over to playing him full time.  He had to endure a rotation with Nijman, and it felt like an audition each week. 

“My whole thing was I just wasn’t going to quit. I could have had a bad attitude, and been like, ‘Man this is BS, I shouldn’t have got benched.’ But I just took advantage of the opportunity to get better, and when I got my next opportunity I just (had to) prove to myself and to everybody that I could play,” Walker said via the Green Bay Packers official website. 

When the team hit its stride at the end of the campaign, Walker finally appeared to win the job.  He played left tackle full time in the playoff games against the Cowboys and 49ers.  Nijman was allowed to walk in free agency.  Finally, Walker could breathe easy, right? 

Wrong.  Along comes the draft, and with his very first pick, Brian Gutekunst tabs Arizona tackle Jordan Morgan.  “He’s a left tackle,” Gutey said.  “He has left tackle feet.”  While also stating he felt the rookie could play across the O-line, Gutey made it clear that the Packers will first see if Morgan can compete for the left tackle slot. 

But to do that, he’s going to have to beat out Walker.  And LaFleur made it clear that is not going to be easy to do.  “He’s (Walker) been a guy that has been totally locked in and dialed in,” the head coach revealed.  “It’s been amazing to see the growth and maturation from when he was a rookie to where he is now.  I think it’s night and day.” 

One of the most interesting storylines of the coming training camp will be the battle for starting jobs on the O-line.  And when it comes to left tackle, Rasheed Walker has come into OTAs undaunted at a first round pick breathing down his neck.  “You always wonder about that (how the player will react)”, says LaFleur.  “There’s only two ways you can go about it, and I think he’s chosen the right way.” 

Walker certainly wasn’t perfect at his critical position last season, but the Packers won some big games with him as the quarterback’s blind side protector.  He is determined to show the coaches it was no fluke.  I wouldn’t bet against him.  Jordan Morgan may have to find some other position to play. 

 

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Ken Lass is a former Green Bay television sports anchor and 43 year media veteran, a lifelong Packers fan, and a shareholder.

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4 points
 

Comments (59)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Johnblood27's picture

May 31, 2024 at 12:29 pm

Can Morgan kick?

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Rory P Scrotem's picture

May 31, 2024 at 04:08 pm

Johnblood27..."Love the comment! GOOD ONE!!"

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LeotisHarris's picture

May 31, 2024 at 04:18 pm

Who are you quoting, Rory?

Are you related to the Clark County Scrotems; Rosy, Beatrice, and Adolph?

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dblbogey's picture

May 31, 2024 at 12:45 pm

Is Walker able to move inside, in case Morgan turns out to be the better left tackle at some point?

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cdoemel's picture

May 31, 2024 at 01:01 pm

I’ve heard some voice the opinion that he’s too tall to play guard.

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LLCHESTY's picture

May 31, 2024 at 01:12 pm

They had the 6'-7½" Telfort as the 2nd team RG this week but I don't know if there's any actual starting guards that tall. It seems like the Raiders had a guy that tall at G a couple years ago.

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Coldworld's picture

May 31, 2024 at 03:54 pm

Dan Skipper has played some G for the Lions (as well as at T). He’s 6’10.

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Cheezehead72's picture

May 31, 2024 at 01:01 pm

I believe he could but it might be better to have him play as a swing tackle and the same goes for Morgan. We need to have the two best tackles playing and then the third to be fresh to come in when needed.

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Leatherhead's picture

May 31, 2024 at 02:44 pm

If we had followed that strategy last season, CH72, Walker would have been staying fresh behind Nijman. The fact that Walker was under contract for 3 more years and Nijman was in his last year was obviously a factor in the decision to let Walker take his lumps on the job, and it worked out pretty well for Walker and the Packers.

If faced with a similar decision this year, I believe they'll let Morgan learn on the job, too. He's the plan at LT for this team, or they wouldn't have drafted him at #25. Walker becomes a very good backup on a very good line. This is win/win

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LLCHESTY's picture

May 31, 2024 at 01:14 pm

He better hope so, Leatherhead says he has no chance to keep his job.

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Leatherhead's picture

May 31, 2024 at 02:38 pm

Leatherhead says that Morgan was drafted with the #25 pick to be our starting LT. They did this AFTER watching Walker's development all year, and knowing full well what he brings. They still spent the #1 pick on Morgan.

Doesn't that even make you think "Why"?

If Morgan inexplicably sucks, or gets injured, then yes, they'll play Walker and be happy about it. But they drafted Morgan to be our LT during the Love window, and if he can't do the job, then that's a failure of scouting and coaching and ultimately it lands on Gutekunst's lap. So I'm proceeding on the assumption that Gutekunst, and the scouting department, and the coaching staff, knew what they were doing when they drafted Morgan.

Guys will get injured and the coaches will shuffle people around at different positions in training camp, but the preferred offensive line in 1265 includes Morgan, Jenkins, Myers, Rhyan, and Tom. Walker gives us a quality backup at Tackle. Things change as soon as people start getting injured.

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Bitternotsour's picture

May 31, 2024 at 02:50 pm

In regards to your question "doesn't that make you think "why"?

That would disturb a narrative, a feeling if you will, and the answer would be, well, no.

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LLCHESTY's picture

May 31, 2024 at 06:34 pm

"Doesn't that even make you think "Why"?"

Because he has the profile to fail inside, like all the other Ts they've drafted in the early rounds since TT got there.

Walker was the 2nd or 3rd best lineman for the Packers at the end of the season. I don't think they've added players that would change that this year.

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Bitternotsour's picture

May 31, 2024 at 10:07 pm

Bakhtiari projected inside? I'm thinking you may be mistaken.

Your assessment of Walker at the end of last season is valid, but they drafted a tackle in the first round, and that is telling. Whether you want to listen to the logic is up to you.

7th round draft choices starting at left tackle in the NFL are an exception, I'm guessing Gutekunst sees that clearly.

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LLCHESTY's picture

June 01, 2024 at 12:59 pm

Your mistake is caring about where a player is drafted once they're drafted. That's what losing GMs do.

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Turophile's picture

May 31, 2024 at 04:59 pm

@dblbogey. Equally, is Morgan able to unseat Rhyan if Walker wins the RT battle. He (Walker) has a significant advantage with the snaps he played last year.

Also, if Walker wins the battle, there may be a round two, to see if Morgan can improve enough to topple Walker after a season learning the subtleties of NFL play.

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13TimeChamps's picture

May 31, 2024 at 05:19 pm

Not according to some of the more prolific commentators on this site. According to a certain one...and this is just a rumor...has "10th best scoring defense" tattooed on his azz....what day you are drafted takes precedence over....well pretty much anything. Remember Amari?

I'm a huge Rasheed Walker fan. If Morgan beats him out, so be it. But I hope it's on merit, not what day they were drafted on.

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Leatherhead's picture

May 31, 2024 at 06:29 pm

You aren't obsessed with me, you just spend time thinking about my azz. Classic.

I know you aren't interested in accuracy when it comes to taking shots at me, but for anybody else, I think that the Packers drafted Morgan to be the starting LT, and that they did this knowing what Walker brings to the table, but they did it anyway. If Morgan isn't a starting caliber LT, why did we take him instead of a guy who could have started for us, like Cooper DeJean, and then drafted a RG later?

He's our starting LT, or the scouting/coaching/personnel people have made a mistake.

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Johnblood27's picture

May 31, 2024 at 09:19 pm

He's our starting LT, or the scouting/coaching/personnel people have made a mistake.

THIS is exactly what I said and my post got thumbed down all the way to China!

Nobody takes a T project to G at 25. Nobody.

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LLCHESTY's picture

May 31, 2024 at 10:07 pm

He's the starting LT IF he beats out Walker. They draft shorter Ts for a reason, if they can't hack it at T they can move inside. If he played G or RT for 10 years and made the pro bowl a few times would you bitch he was 1st round pick?

Basing a players worth based solely on where the were drafted is pure silliness IMO, especially with how well Walker was playing at the end of the year. If Morgan is a top 5 lineman he'll play, at the end of the year Walker was a top 3 lineman and I doubt a rookie beats him out.

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Bitternotsour's picture

May 31, 2024 at 10:14 pm

Ask yourself why they would draft a left tackle at 25 if they thought the future was with Walker. Explain that away. I'll wait. They took flyers on the line later in the draft, but they invested a first rounder at left tackle.

Walker was a replacement for Bakhtiari. He is not the long term plan.

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LLCHESTY's picture

May 31, 2024 at 10:55 pm

Because they didn't have a 3rd T and didn't want to risk the season tanking if one of the top 2 guys went down? Losing Bakhtiari and Nijman in a year left no options and obviously they have no faith in the huge, ungainly guys.

I don't get why so many think he's "just" a LT. Were Sitton and Lang just LTs? I didn't think they needed to spend a 1st on quality depth at T but they way things fell it was a good idea.

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Turophile's picture

June 01, 2024 at 12:12 am

.............and Mike Wahle......and Ross Verba, both LTs who moved to guard.

The talk about the Packers not drafting Morgan to not be anything other than starter at LT is irrelevant if the Packers follow THEIR OWN OFT-REPEATED MANTRA of putting the best 5 on the field.

With that yardstick, the players fight it out on the field and the chips fall where they will, whether it is Walker or Morgan that ends up as LT. What the Packers HOPE to get from Morgan is just projection - he still would have to beat out Walker to take the LT spot.

Morgan has the advantage of being a far higher pick out of the gate, while Walker has perhaps an even greater advantage of priceless reps in real play. Who wins this battle isn't clear to me at all and all I wish is that it be a fair battle.

If forced to make a prediction (and this is nothing more than a WAG) I'd guess Walker beats out Morgan this year and starts - with Morgan subbing in sometimes and getting some reps at LT during this season. Then next year Walker is unseated at LT by Morgan - but I can certainly see a possible scenario where Morgan can never unseat Walker and ends up playing at (for example) RG.

I don't have a 'recency bias', taking the new guy over the (slightly) older one, whatever their relative draft positions. If they both play well that is tough on the players themselves as one has to lose eventually, but that is a good thing for the Packers point of view to have two viable starter-level LTs (three if you count Tom).

Many teams can't even field one good LT. Imagine you are the 49ers who have 36 year old Trent Williams there, whose body is fast breaking down and likely won't last this season. Behind him is who ? Dominick Puni (86th pick this year and the 49ers want him competing for a guard spot) and at RT, Colton McKivitz. Now THAT is a less-than-stellar set of OTs to take into a season long battle, for a team that expects to be a top contender for a SB.

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Bitternotsour's picture

June 01, 2024 at 09:12 am

The Packers are able to field potentially 4 starters at Left Tackle. Tom, Jenkins, Walker and Morgan. It's an embarrassment of riches. If people look back it was apparent that Jenkins was a top ten left tackle when Bakh went down. Hell, he's getting paid like a left tackle.

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LLCHESTY's picture

June 01, 2024 at 01:02 pm

"Hell, he's getting paid like a left tackle."

He definitely isn't.

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Guam's picture

June 01, 2024 at 03:24 pm

"Ask yourself why they would draft a left tackle at 25 if they thought the future was with Walker?"

Because he was the best player available at #25? The Packers drafted Rodgers when they had Favre, Love when they had Rodgers - why is it such a big leap that they drafted Morgan when they had Walker? BPA.......

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Bitternotsour's picture

June 01, 2024 at 04:51 pm

That is an outstanding answer. Thank you. I'm guilty of having lost the forest for the trees.

I would note however that even when they draft that best player available, they have a plan for them. You don't draft the best tackle on the board without the intention to integrate them into the team. Same with Rodgers and Love, the idea was they were to be starters.

Maybe they have the luxury with Walker that let's them keep Morgan in the weight room for a year. I personally doubt that, but it is absolutely possible.

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Guam's picture

June 02, 2024 at 10:11 pm

I'm sure the front office has a plan, but plans also change. Gute was of the opinion that Tom might be a great center (and he played center in college). Tom is now the Packers RT. Gute believes Morgan is a LT. He may be or he may wind up at RG. The coaching staff, other players (Walker) and need (maybe Rhyan fails) get votes too. I think Morgan is versatile and where he plays this year is TBD.

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Leatherhead's picture

June 02, 2024 at 12:28 pm

So the Packer plan, going into the draft, if just to take whoever they can and then figure out what to do with him.? Why wasn't Cooper DeJean a "better player"? How do you compare an OT and a DB?

.They lost Bakhtiari. They plugged in Walker. After a rough start, he did pretty well. The Packer coaches reviewed his film. And then drafted an OT. If they really though Walker was the answer at LT, we'd have taken somebody different and picked up an OT later,IMO.

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Guam's picture

June 02, 2024 at 03:24 pm

The Packers lost Bakhtiari, Nijman and Runyon. The O-line had holes. They drafted an O-lineman who, according to the draftniks, can play either tackle or guard. Maybe he supplants Walker, maybe he plays RG - I don't know. I think they drafted a guy who is versatile and they will figure out a spot for him.

Why does he have to be only an LT a few days into OTA's? Let's see how Walker, Rhyan and Morgan play during TC before we start assigning positions.

2 points
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13TimeChamps's picture

June 02, 2024 at 03:26 pm

Well said.

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Leatherhead's picture

June 02, 2024 at 04:21 pm

Guam, I've always liked your takes, but we didn't spend our #25 on a RG

The Packers brass has a plan, a multi year plan, on multiple fronts, to put quality teams on the field. It doesn't change that plan every day or week. They don't just wait and take BPA, they go and get the guy they want, even if they have to trade up

If Morgan isn't good enough to be our starting LT, then that's a failure of coaching and scouting, because they were the ones that looked at Walker and said "let's draft a tackle". If Walker were the future, they wouldn't have taken Morgan at #25.

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Guam's picture

June 02, 2024 at 10:04 pm

We're going to agree to disagree LH. I think they drafted a guy who can help them somewhere on the O-line - and the O-line needs help in several places. Where is TBD.

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GregC's picture

June 01, 2024 at 05:08 am

"Nobody takes a T project to G at 25. Nobody."

I don't have time to research this, but I think it's actually pretty common. The Buccaneers picked Graham Barton, a college OT, right after the Packers picked Jordan Morgan, and they are training Barton at center. It's not guard, but the switch is similar.

Usually these position changes don't happen right away. The player is tried out at tackle, and if they struggle they are switched to guard.

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Leatherhead's picture

June 02, 2024 at 12:31 pm

Barton was widely considered to be a Center in the pros. In fact, some thought he was the best Center in the class. And we passed on Barton, because we though Morgan would be a better LT.

Colleges put their best linemen at tackle. Often, they end up moving inside in the pros.

I agree with JB on this: You don't spend #25 on a guy you intend to move to guard, unless you're one of these franchises that never wins anything.

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jaxpackfan's picture

June 01, 2024 at 08:34 am

I believe that the Titans took Peter Skoronski, a tackle that projected to play guard. He is currently their LG.

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LLCHESTY's picture

June 01, 2024 at 01:07 pm

He was the 11th pick in the draft last year. I guess their scouts and GM really screwed the pooch on that one.

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Leatherhead's picture

June 02, 2024 at 04:32 pm

Well, how have the Titans done? I mean, what makes you think the Titans have some insight that the Packers lack?

They were 6-11 last year. Their offense was one of the worst in the league, so if the idea was to draft Skoronski to improve their offense, then that didn't work very well, did it? They make the playoffs about every 3rd year.

Skoronski was a good, not great, rookie on a not very good line. Would I have drafted a guard with the 11th pick? No. I'd have taken somebody like LaPorta or Cody Mauch (remember him?) Both of those guys had a high AV, and both of them were taken after the first round.

So yes, The Titans drafted a guard real high. I don't think it was a good move by the Titans.

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Cheezehead72's picture

May 31, 2024 at 12:59 pm

I will tell you what I am not big enough to get him out of his seat. I guess I could use dynamite.

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LeotisHarris's picture

May 31, 2024 at 04:10 pm

Think pad level, dude. You can do it!

2 points
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LLCHESTY's picture

May 31, 2024 at 01:20 pm

"Some players might have given up"

What players? They have about a million reasons not to, even as a 7th round pick. Even on the PS they have 300,000 reasons not to give up. Frustrated would have been the better word choice there.

8 points
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LeotisHarris's picture

May 31, 2024 at 04:21 pm

Oh, c'mon! How the hell can Ken craft a story with moral fiber where our protagonist is filled with grit, moxie, and determination and defies all odds to succeed if he can't compare "Sheed" to The Quitters? Why do you hate America, LL?

4 points
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LLCHESTY's picture

May 31, 2024 at 10:09 pm

No hate, just some serious reservations once in awhile.

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stockholder's picture

May 31, 2024 at 01:22 pm

I'd ask to be traded.
There is a big difference from
Back-up to starting pay.
He proved he can start.

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jannes bjornson's picture

May 31, 2024 at 01:37 pm

So did Nijman....

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stockholder's picture

May 31, 2024 at 08:54 pm

Nijman never proved he could.
Quote -Walker has good feet.

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jannes bjornson's picture

June 01, 2024 at 08:58 am

They paid him 4.3 M, then propped him in first after Bhak went down.

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Bitternotsour's picture

May 31, 2024 at 02:47 pm

you'd ask to be traded - and you would find out that you have no leverage to assist that trade. i'm certain too that while in hell you'll ask for ice water. again, it's unlikely that you'll get an affirmation.

4 points
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Leatherhead's picture

May 31, 2024 at 03:06 pm

You'd have less than no leverage. Walker is on the Packers for two years, and then he'll be a FA, along with several other key players. If he's a solid backup and a good guy, he's going to get signed to a contract that will make him an instant multi-millionaire. And he'll only be around 26.

If he's a dick/bad apple/malcontent, he'll get the reputation as damaged goods and it'll lower his value.

In the meantime, he's got a chance to play in a Super Bowl, and he's one injury from being a starter. He has all the incentive in the world to be at his best.

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Turophile's picture

June 01, 2024 at 11:03 am

Quote "In the meantime, he's got a chance to play in a Super Bowl, and he's one injury from being a starter. He has all the incentive in the world to be at his best." Endquote

You have already decided Morgan beats out Walker - before mini-camp, training camp and preseason games ???

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Charvid's picture

May 31, 2024 at 03:12 pm

Of course you would.

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asmith1969's picture

May 31, 2024 at 01:26 pm

Walker was a highly touted recruit coming into Penn State. He endured a plethora of injuries which caused his draft stock to plummet (sounds like a recent Penn State 7th rounder). He’s a true LT or RT that I expect will win one of the 2 tackle positions. Let’s see how this plays out but it’s a great situation to be in to have Walker, Tom, Morgan, etc..all in play for starting tackle positions. The flexibility that the O-Line has should pay dividends as well. Go Pack Go! 👍

6 points
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LLCHESTY's picture

May 31, 2024 at 02:00 pm

I think it was just as much off the field stuff as injuries.

1 points
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ricky's picture

May 31, 2024 at 03:28 pm

Walker proves that it's not where you're drafted, but what you do once you're on the field. Also, I really like his attitude. No anger or resentment toward the management (at least not in public). Instead, get back, get to work, and show the coaches he is the best choice at his position. No drama, no attitude. Except that no one is going to take what he has earned.

3 points
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Rory P Scrotem's picture

May 31, 2024 at 04:09 pm

LOMBARDI WOULD HAVED LOVED THIS GUY!!

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GregC's picture

May 31, 2024 at 04:40 pm

"When the Packers decided it was time to move on from David Bakhtiari, due largely to his nagging injury issues, the team needed somebody to step up at left tackle. "

Actually they did not decide to move on from Bakhtiari. He got injured and couldn't play.

Anyway, Walker did a really good job once he got his feet under him, and I agree that he won't be easy to beat out. If Morgan can't win the LT job, I won't hold it against him, although I would hope that Morgan is starting somewhere on the offensive line at least by next year.

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KKB's picture

May 31, 2024 at 08:03 pm

Unlikely - but I would still like to see Tom at Center. After drafting Monk though, it is really unlikely to happen.
Still, my preferred lineup would be (L to R): Morgan, Jenkins, Tom (C), Ryan/Jennings, and Walker.
Walker just seems more built for the right side.

2 points
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Bearmeat's picture

June 01, 2024 at 09:40 am

I see it playing out one of three ways, from most to least likely:

1. Walker/Jenkins/Myers/Morgan/Tom. Top backup IOL Rhyan. Dillard as swing OT.
2. Walker/Jenkins/Tom/Rhyan/Morgan. Top backup IOL TBD. Tom as swing OT with Myers taking OC.
3. Morgan/Jenkins/Myers/Rhyan/Tom. Top backup IOL TBD. Walker as swing OT.

Let the guys duke it out for IOL backup. We have plenty of depth and quality. I really like how this OL is shaping up.

1 points
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Oppy's picture

June 01, 2024 at 09:54 am

Tom is one of the player that suffered a torn pectoral injury.
For Kraft (TE), that's one thing. He just has to worry about repair and he should be able to play with some efficiency.

For an OL, that's a big deal. Not only does it need to heal, but he'll need to get the strength back to be able to even think about seeing the field- most of a lineman's 'punch' comes from his chest.

My guess is that Morgan gets to cut his teeth playing in place of Tom for the first 1/3 to 1/2 of the 2024.

2 points
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