Monday, January 3, 2011
Former draft pick stars for Packers
By Matt Mosley
In case you missed it Sunday, someone named Erik Walden sacked Jay Cutler twice Sunday and had 11 tackles. Walden was a sixth-round pick by the Dallas Cowboys in '08, but he didn't make the team. He'd spent most of his career with the Miami Dolphins, but the Packers signed him off the street in late October.
Now, he's making a name for himself after replacing the injured Frank Zombo as the starter at right outside linebacker. I vaguely remember Walden from training camp in '08, but nothing about the former Middle Tennessee player stood out. But he was arguably the best defensive player on the field Sunday, and now he'll prepare to face Michael Vick.
"A lot of guys, probably names you haven't heard this season, have come up big for us," Packers Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Woodson told reporters following Sunday's win over the Bears. "Walden had a huge day for us. You haven't heard his name a lot this year. He's a new guy on this team, but he stepped up big.
"That has had to happen with the amount of injuries we've had. We haven't had guys that have been out two weeks, three weeks. We've had guys on [injured reserve] who couldn't come back. Backups and practice squad guys who have been called up, they've had to play and play well in order for us to get into the playoffs."
The Eagles will have to focus a lot of their attention on Packers linebacker Clay Matthews on Sunday, so Walden will probably have plenty of opportunities against one-on-one blocking. Everyone talks about the Packers being a dangerous No. 6 seed based on their offense, but their defense has been equally (if not more) impressive this season.