Senior writer jclombardi profiles unsung hero OLB Walden.
OLB Walden: Outside linebacker Erik Walden picked up two unexpected things Wednesday: The NFC Defensive Player of the Week award, and another sack from his already impressive performance against the Chicago Bears last Sunday. Now, he’s looking to pick up where he left off last Sunday – 16 tackles, three sacks – and play a key role in the Packers’ NFC Wild Card playoff game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. “He did it all,” veteran cornerback Charles Woodson said of Walden’s performance against the Bears. “I think he impressed a lot of people around here. When you play at that high of a level, now we expect you to do it all the time. So we look for big things from him coming into these playoffs.” “It’s just nice to have someone in there to make some plays and take a little heat off me,” Matthews said. “I told him he’s doing a fantastic job. He’s been working his butt off since he got here. It’s not easy to come in here halfway through the year. Now he’s starting for a playoff team and making sacks, making plays. More power to him.” “That’s the objective. You have to take your hat off to a guy like Vick, because you never know where he might wind up,” Walden said. “He may roll out to his left on one play, and then he scrambles and breaks out to his right on the next play. It’s going to be a difficult task, but I know we’re going to be prepared to play.”
Secret’s out on Packers’ Walden: Erik Walden won’t be able to sneak up on the Philadelphia Eagles. Not after the free-agent linebacker’s coming-out party in the regular-season finale, in which he racked up 16 tackles and sacked Jay Cutler three times in the Green Bay Packers’ 10-3 victory over the Chicago Bears. The Eagles undoubtedly have isolated Walden in film study as they prepare to play host to the Packers in an NFC wild-card playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday. “I won’t be a secret this week,” Walden said with a smile. “I’m looking forward to it. I’m going to make sure I prepare myself to the max and do whatever I can do to help us win.” The 25-year-old Walden, a third-year pro from Middle Tennessee State, was named NFC defensive player on the week Wednesday, a stunning achievement considering the Packers signed him off the street Oct. 27. Initially credited with 11 tackles and two sacks against the Bears, the numbers were bumped up to 16 and three after film review. The 16 tackles tied the Packers’ single-game high this season. Walden was trying to get used to all the extra attention this week. “Yeah, just with all the phone calls and the texts,” he said. “That was great. And your family being proud of you. At the same time I’m trying to just keep on pushing. This is just the beginning. That’s how I look at it.”