It can take a few years for a player to come into his own in the NFL, but when the lightbulb goes off, it’s a special moment for a team.
That seems to have become the case with Detroit Lions’ safety Tracy Walker. After a few bumpy seasons in the league, Walker seems to be stepping up in a big way in 2021. His play against the Minnesota Vikings managed to earn him plenty of eyeballs, and Dan Campbell was very impressed with what Walker was able to do in the game in terms of his overall development for the future.
The latest Lions news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Lions newsletter here!
Speaking with the media on Monday, October 11, Campbell was asked about Walker, and provided a good answer about where he sees his development. As he said, the effort in Week 5 was what the Lions have been hoping for out of Walker, and the play showed signs of being amongst the best at his position.
“That’s the Tracy we know and have been waiting to come out of his shell. I’ll tell you what, he played confident, he played physical, he communicated well and it was great to see. Because he did, he played like a top-notch safety (Sunday). He was a factor and you felt his presence,” Campbell said.
Walker put up decent numbers the last few seasons, racking up 103 tackles in 2019 and 87 in 2020, but his evolution into a more complete player could leave him ready to put together his best season in 2021 regardless of what the statistics show.
Walker Becomes PFF’s Second-Rated Safety
It isn’t just eyeballs from coaches that seem to support the notion that Walker is coming on strong this season. Pro Football Focus metrics agree with that idea as well, and have moved Walker up to their second-rated safety in the entire league for his work this season.
Overall, it’s been a strong season for Walker, who has managed to gain an 83.5 overall ranking thus far from the site. That includes an 86.2 mark in run defense and a 73.4 mark in coverage. As the year presses on, it will be interesting to see where Walker’s work has him trending. Safe to say right now, folks are impressed in a major way for what he has done in between the lines.
Walker Looking to Grow Despite Tough Losses
In terms of Walker himself, the defender probably isn’t too interested in thinking about how well he is doing on the field right now, especially as his team continues to struggle in a big way with putting away victories. Even though the Lions have sustained close losses, Walker is more interested in finding a way to move forward and keep improving rather than resting on his laurels.
In an interview with the media on October 10 posted to DetroitLions.com after Detroit’s 19-17 loss, Walker explained that win or lose, he is more focused on trying to get better every single day rather than wallowing in disappointments.
“At the end of the day, I can’t sit here and drag about it. I got to look at the positives, look at the negatives, grow from the positives and move on,” Walker told the media.
As it relates to Detroit’s losing streak and penchant for losing close games, Walker isn’t dismayed by that either. As he explained, he wants to see it used as fuel for the Lions.
“I just feel like we’re going to use this and continue to just grind and work and try to be better,” he said.
The Lions would be wise to follow Walker’s words, considering the fact that he has managed to keep plugging and turn his own play around in a big way.