Packers Notebook - Walker On The Rise


Since the Green Bay Packers made him their first-round pick in 2002, wide receiver Javon Walker has been an active part of the offense.

But it's safe to say that none of Walker's performances to this point contributed more toward a win than his three-catch, two-touchdown effort against the Minnesota Vikings last weekend.

And based on that effort, GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman believes the 25-year-old is rapidly coming into his own.

"I think the confidence level that he's playing with now is at an all-time high," Sherman said this week. "Initially, when he got here, I thought he was inconsistent as a pass-catcher. But I think he's become very confident in his ability, particularly throughout the course of this season."

Walker's success is hardly out of the blue. At the end of his rookie season he set a Packers rookie record with 104 receiving yards against the Atlanta Falcons.

But quarterback Brett Favre believes Walker is learning how to use his large 6-foot-3, 220-pound frame to his advantage.

So far, Walker's speed has helped him lead the team in receiving yards (301) and touchdown receptions (4). And that latter total could start increasing quickly based on the Metrodome performance.

"You would think by his size and talent that he would be a legitimate weapon on any part of the field," Favre said, "but red zone more than any."

Walker's performance last weekend could get him more looks Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles, but Favre doesn't think the Packers will alter their balanced attack any time soon.

"That's the beauty of our offense," Favre said. "We don't have a 100-yard receiver (in a game) yet. No one cares, and we are racking up a lot of yardage and points. That, more than anything, says a lot about our team and how balanced we are."

Collision Course

One way or another, a winning streak is going to end Monday night at Lambeau Field.

Under head coach Andy Reid, who was an assistant coach in Green Bay from 1992-98, the Eagles have won eight straight November road games, dating back to 2000.

The Packers on the other hand have put together a streak of eight wins in prime-time games, including this season's 38-23 win at Chicago on a Monday night (Sept. 29) and last weekend's 30-27 win at Minnesota Sunday night (Nov. 2).

Despite his team's history of success, Sherman said Monday night games can actually be tough to prepare for because of the short turnaround for the following game. But center Mike Flanagan suggested that Sherman is able to bring a little something extra out of the troops for primetime.

"He's got certain things that he always keys on, Monday night being one of them," Flanagan said. "A lot of it is guys just take it on themselves. I mean, you're on the national stage. You're the only team playing that day. You are the big show that week. If you're not jacked up for that, do something else."

Timing Everything

In piling up 451 yards of total offense against the Minnesota Vikings, the Packers insist they did nothing special last weekend.

They simply executed the same offensive plans they've run all year, with only one slight modification: they ran them faster.

Sherman said that since the Arizona Cardinals loss the coaching staff has been trying to get the offensive line to break the huddle faster and get to the line of scrimmage to run the play.

The idea is that the quick turnaround between plays makes it difficult for defenses to substitute and react to offensive formations, while allowing the Packers' offense a chance to pick up momentum and wear down their opponents.

In the early part of the Minnesota game, before the Packers were trying to milk the clock with a lead, Sherman indicated that the Packers were snapping the ball on average with about 22 seconds left on the play clock.

And even players agree that the quickened pace is to the offense's advantage.

"(The coaches) are screaming 'tempo-tempo' all week," offensive guard Mike Wahle said. "I tell you what, it's absolutely true. Ever since a couple of weeks a go, when we started really looking at our tempo and speeding things up ... it makes a difference and it keeps (defenses) on their heels.

"Any time you can do that with a defense and you can dictate the flow of the game, you're going to be that much better off."

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