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Mike Spofford

Mike Spofford has worked as a sportswriter in Wisconsin since 1995 and has been a packers.com staff writer since 2006. He has covered the Packers' last two Super Bowl appearances, XXXII and XLV.

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Walden apologizes to teammates, fans; injury update; thoughts on Detroit suspension

Posted Nov 29, 2011


Outside linebacker Erik Walden apologized to his teammates and fans for the legal situation he’s involved in, and said he’s unsure if he’s playing Sunday against the Giants.

Walden, who was arrested early last Friday morning as a result of a domestic incident but has yet to be charged, spoke with reporters in the locker room on Tuesday after having spent the weekend in jail. He gained his release on a signature bond on Monday and has another court hearing scheduled for next week.

He issued the following statement before taking a few questions: “First off, I’d like to thank the most high for helping me get through this matter,” he said. “Second, I want to apologize to the entire organization, my teammates, and the fans. It’s an ongoing process. I respect that process, and it’s just unfortunate that I brought something negative from so much positive that’s going on with this organization. I’m cooperating fully.”

When asked if the situation will prevent him from playing on Sunday, Walden referred the question to Head Coach Mike McCarthy, who will speak to the media on Wednesday. Walden did say he has resigned himself to the fact that he may not play.

“I feel terrible about the situation,” he said.

Frank Zombo has not played since injuring his hamstring in San Diego four games ago and, provided he’s healthy, would likely be the first option to replace Walden if he doesn’t play.

Teammates expressed their support for Walden but don’t believe the situation will distract the team during its current unbeaten season.

“I don’t think it’s that much of a distraction,” inside linebacker Desmond Bishop said. “With a team like ours, with strong-minded people, something like that is not going to be in our way from accomplishing our goal.”

Bishop, who left last Thursday’s game against Detroit with a calf injury, said he’s feeling better and would wait until later in the week to see if he’s up to playing at New York.

Right guard Josh Sitton is a little worse for wear, walking around with a brace on his injured knee but preparing to help whoever is his replacement this week. Sitton said he and Evan Dietrich-Smith, who took his spot in Detroit, were chatting Monday night while both were watching the Giants play in New Orleans.

“It’s not easy to come off the sidelines,” Sitton said, referring to Dietrich-Smith’s duty. “You’re not warmed up. It can happen just as quickly as it did. I’m proud of the way he came in and played.”

Dietrich-Smith ended up being on the wrong end of Detroit defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh’s ejection-inducing behavior, which got Suh suspended for two games by the league. The suspension was announced Tuesday morning.

Reaction to the suspension by the Packers was indifferent, at best. Sitton said he didn’t care and that “it’s in the past,” while teammates echoed that sentiment.

“It’s over,” left guard T.J. Lang said. “He’s getting his discipline, and that’s it. That’s not our business to worry about. We put that behind us last week. We’re moving on to the Giants. Our focus is totally off that.”

The Packers do feel the four-day break they received following their Thanksgiving victory will help with that focus. The players returned to the team facility on Tuesday for meetings and film review, and they’ll be back on the practice field on Wednesday for a normal week of preparation.

“We hit that stretch of three games in 11 days and that was physically taxing on everybody,” fullback John Kuhn said. “To get out of here for four days and get to recover, get to refresh your mind, it’s going to go a long way here down the stretch.”

 
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