Going into 2020, many believed this would be a breakout season for Detroit Lions safety Tracy Walker. With two years of promising experience behind him and some help in the secondary with Jeff Okudah and Duron Harmon, it appeared the stars had aligned for Walker to break out into the national scene.
That couldn’t be further from what happened. Towards the end of training camp, Lions coaches started to place Will Harris with the first-team defense over him, and when Week 1 came, Walker shockingly did not start. He didn’t start in Week 2, either. And when he finally regained his spot with the starters, all that promise he’d shown in his first two seasons was gone. He was missing tackles, overrunning plays, and making mistakes that were uncharacteristic of what we had seen. Eventually, he was taken out of the starting lineup again.
Walker admitted this week that the changing of roles week-to-week took a toll on him.
“At times it was tough,” Walker said. “It was very hard to try to overcome, especially when you’re getting thrown out there just to go try and make a play. So at times it was difficult, but like I said, I’ve got to step up and I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do. I’ve got to play the best of my ability, and regardless of the situations I’m put in, I’ve got to capitalize on it.”
When asked if he believed this constant changing of roles contributed to some of his struggles on the field, Walker opted not to answer.
“I’d rather not answer that question, to be honest with you.”
This isn’t the first time Walker has pleaded the fifth on a question that may incriminate him (or the coaching staff). Back in November when asked if he believed players were being used properly, he answered in an almost identical way.
“I’d rather not answer that question. I feel like I’m going to stay away from that one.”
He may not have answered those questions, but the simple act of not answering them tells us everything we need to know about what he thought of these personnel decisions.
If that wasn’t made clear enough already, here’s what Walker’s answer was after he was asked about the firing of Matt Patricia and whether he thought it had to be done.
“I just feel like this: Sometimes change is good and sometimes it has to happen. As far as that whole situation, I just come to work and just give it my all regardless of what coach is in here, regardless of whoever is calling the shots. I’m just here to do my job and do it to the best of my ability.”
But with the past now behind him, Walker says he’s already starting to feel better. With the birth of his son—Tracy Leonard Walker the fourth—last week and the Lions’ first win in a month, Walker believes he’s playing better again. And while he’s still not part of the starting lineup—that role has been usurped by Jayron Kearse—he’s clearly in a better mental place.
“My life has been pretty, pretty hectic this year. So I definitely found myself again. Let’s just go with that.”