GREEN BAY – A guard by trade, Josh Walker hasn’t had much time to learn to play tackle as well.
He’s proving to be a quick study.
After getting a share of snaps at right tackle in the Packers’ last two preseason games, the big-bodied Walker (6-5, 328) believes he’s shown the versatility demanded of a backup offensive lineman, as he continues to state his case for a spot on the 53-man roster.
“I feel so much more comfortable (than) after the Pittsburgh game,” Walker said following Saturday night’s contest with Philadelphia at Lambeau Field. “I got some good reps against good quality opponents. I don’t bat an eye when I go to tackle now.”
Undrafted from Middle Tennessee State, Walker was cut by the Indianapolis Colts last year and spent the majority of his rookie season on Green Bay’s practice squad.
He credits his offseason work with the Packers’ strength and conditioning staff for improving his footwork, which allowed him to try a new spot when injuries shuffled the depth chart in training camp.
Starting at right guard on Saturday night in place of T.J. Lang (concussion), Walker said the only challenge in moving to tackle against the Eagles was doing it in the middle of a series, when starter Bryan Bulaga exited with an ankle injury.
He had to make the mental shift on the fly, rather than with some time on the sideline to process it. But he held his own, helping the offense produce two first-half touchdown drives against the Eagles’ first- and second-line defenders.
“The good thing is, I know guard, so when I line up I know what the guard is doing if I’m at tackle,” he said. “If he’s doing this, then I have to do this. It’s good that I learned guard first.”
It’s also good for him that he’s not just a one-position guy anymore. It improves his odds of making the team, though he’s not taking anything to the bank just yet.
“I have to get better,” he said. “There’s always stuff to clean up. I have to get my technique better. Have to play clean, play smart, get the little things downs. They want it to be perfect.”
It’s the little things the Packers’ young receivers are focusing on, too, as the scrutiny on a Jordy Nelson-less group ratchets up.
Myles White made a circus, one-handed grab while falling down and being interfered with, a memorable play among his nine catches for 89 yards against the Eagles. He didn’t think about all that, though, as much as the one pass that got away.
“I wish I would have had that two-point conversion,” said White, who didn’t react quickly enough to snag Brett Hundley’s throw in the flat after a third-quarter touchdown. “It kind of got on me hot.”
Similarly, Jeff Janis paid less attention to his 27-yard TD reception from Matt Blanchard – Janis’ fourth preseason score in seven games – and more to his game film that doesn’t make the highlight reels.
“Last game I had some MA’s (missed assignments) and I wanted to cut down on that,” Janis said. “I was in the book a little more this week. I think my run blocking was a little better, too.”
Rookie Ty Montgomery wished he had broken free to score on the slant pass he took for 52 yards in the first quarter, but suggested he would next time.
“It felt great until I got tackled, that’s for sure,” he said. “I wasn’t really feeling full speed. There’s a lot of fatigue in training camp, but I was happy to have that play.”
Now the Packers want to see more, from all of them.
“It’s one game, and you don’t want to just run with that, but it was good,” White said. “We all kind of had our moments – Jeff, Ty and myself. By no means does it replace Jordy or anything, but we’re trying.”