Walker Adjusting In Second Mini-Camp

Often during the Packers' April mini-camp, Javon Walker's pass routes ended with a clap of his hands, a slam of the turf, or a slap of the padded walls inside the Don Hutson Center - indications, all three, that he hadn't brought in the pass intended for him.

Bad route, poor throw, miscommunication or an outright drop, the reason behind a miscue wasn't always clear. But what was unmistakable was that the wheels of Walker's mind were turning, sometimes so fast that his body didn't seem able to keep up.

Make catches? Heck, he was just hoping he'd run the right route. He was just trying to translate the still-foreign terminology that he'd only started to learn days before when the Packers made him their first round draft choice.

Making receptions had gone from feeling like second nature, to being a second thought.

But that was over a month ago. Since, Walker has participated in the Packers' offseason opportunity sessions, sat in on team meetings and received one-on-one tutorials from members of the coaching staff.

The knowledge and understanding has been building, and the wheels of the mind are starting to slow to a more manageable pace.

"The first mini-camp, I was doing a lot of thinking," Walker said. "I was just out there trying to fill the spot and learn what to do in certain situations, but now I'm far past that.

"It's time to start making plays now, and when balls are thrown, make catches and finish it and try to score."

Walker flashed some of that playmaking ability in Wednesday's mini-camp practice, not only seeming to nail his routes, but catching several balls in traffic, including a trademark missile from Brett Favre. That's not to say that he was flawless, but the improvement was hard to miss.

"He's stepped it up and he's feeling comfortable and that's the main thing," receivers coach Ray Sherman said. "When you have an offense like we have and you have a lot of players, it's going to take time for a young man to grasp it and he's really grasped it.

"We spend extra time together and a lot of meeting time . . . He's studying and he's preparing himself and it shows on the field, because he is comfortable when he's out there."

Up to this point, Walker said he's been pleased with his evolution from the first mini-camp and encouraged that his progress hasn't gone unnoticed.

"It feels good when the coaches are telling me that they can see (my ability) starting to come out now," he said. "I'm pretty excited because this is only the beginning. I really haven't started to develop to where I want to be."

Where he wants is to be is on the field contributing to team success. While the newly acquired Terry Glenn is unquestionably tabbed to lead the way, the second wave of the Packers receiving corps - Donald Driver, Charles Lee and Robert Ferguson - is relatively inexperienced, which makes mini-camp practices all the more important for Walker, who so far has seen that contract negotiations have done nothing to limit his attendance.

"I'm competitive and I want to play," Walker said. "Obviously me being here and learning the offense is to my advantage to get on the field in the first preseason game. It's really critical to be here (practicing)."

How he will fit into the Packers' game strategies come September remains to be seen. Walker certainly has a long way to go, but it's a promising sign when the turf slam of frustration is quickly being replaced with the slap of the congratulatory high-five.

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