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Quay Walker has fit right in with Packers' inside linebackers

Rookie first-round pick took a lot away from working with De’Vondre Campbell this spring

LB Quay Walker
LB Quay Walker

GREEN BAY – Like most Packers fans, Quay Walker stood in awe of De'Vondre Campbell's breakthrough season.

After waiting for the right opportunity, Campbell put the NFL on notice in 2021 while leading Green Bay's defense with 145 tackles and earning his first All-Pro recognition.

A native of Cordele, Ga., who then attended the University of Georgia, Walker was long familiar with Campbell's game. Not only did the two share a position but Campbell also started every season he played with the nearby Atlanta Falcons from 2016-19.

A promising inside linebacker himself, Walker took plenty of notes from afar. Since being drafted by the Packers in the first round this past April, Walker has enjoyed the linebacking masterclass that comes with being Campbell's teammate.

"I picked up a whole lot to be honest with you," said Walker of working with Campbell. "He doesn't quite know it, but I watched him a whole lot. Just trying to learn as much as I can from him and how he goes about his day."

If he didn't know it before, Campbell certainly knows it now.

Replying to a tweet of a video of Walker discussing Campbell's impact on him during the offseason program, the All-Pro linebacker tweeted: "I try to help and give as much advice as I can, even though he doesn't really need it. He (is) already a baller. Very smart young man with a great future ahead of him."

Soon after drafting Walker, General Manager Brian Gutekunst spoke on the similarities between the No. 22 overall pick and Campbell from a size, speed and intelligence standpoint.

It could be seen when the two lined up next to one another this spring, as the Packers weren't shy about integrating Walker with the first-team defense.

While the Packers return their starting tandem from last season in Campbell and third-year veteran Krys Barnes, there's room for linebackers in defensive coordinator Joe Barry's defense.

Schematically, Green Bay made a seismic shift under Barry last season with inside linebackers combining for 1,776 snaps compared to 1,431 the year prior. At times, Barry even showed packages featuring three inside linebackers with Oren Burks joining Campbell and Barnes on the field.

In Walker, the Packers have added a rangy 6-foot-4, 241-pound playmaker whose size and 4.52 time in the 40 at the NFL Scouting Combine lends itself to potentially moving around the defense.

"That's the reason why I was chosen," Walker said. "I'm willing to do whatever the team needs me to do in order for us to play better and get the win, whatever the case may be."

With most veterans heading home after mandatory minicamp, Walker had a chance to relay defensive calls during the final week of organized team activities before the summer break.

One established player who stuck around for those practices was fourth-year linebacker Rashan Gary. Like Walker, Gary came to the Packers as a highly touted first-round pick in 2019.

Asked for his first impressions of Walker, Gary summed up his feelings in four words: "Big. Fast. Strong. Explosive."

"One thing I challenged Quay with is you're in the 'backer spot, be confident; yell the calls," said Gary, who led the Packers with 9½ sacks last season.

"Because if you're confident, we're all confident. But he's been doing a hell of a job picking up the plays."

Like most rookies, Walker had to work past the early jitters that come with being a rookie in a new defense. He credits both Campbell and Barnes for helping him get to that point.

Besides just the X's and O's, the offseason program was vital for Walker to build up his confidence as he begins to tackle the "top level of football." 

Walker's plan for the summer was to go back home, train and continue to learn the playbook, both defense and special teams. Once he returns for training camp, the rookie first-round pick knows the intensity is going to ramp up even more.

"I'm just trying to get better and soak up as much knowledge as I can," Walker said. "I'm a rookie so I don't take no day for granted. All the reps that I'm getting while the guys are gone, I'm just trying to build my confidence, build on it as much as I can and go from there."

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