Walker Poised To Carry Load


Only five tandems in NFL history have combined for more touchdowns than Antonio Freeman and Brett Favre, making the Green Bay Packers' newly re-signed wide receiver the top scoring target of the top quarterback in team history.

But it's been two years since that dynamic duo shared the same field, and it took seven years to tally those 57 touchdowns.

Freeman was undoubtedly the go-to guy in the past, but even with Donald Driver out and Robert Ferguson questionable for Sunday, he's not being asked to be The Man of the present.

That responsibility is being placed upon the broad shoulders of Javon Walker, who at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds is the biggest body in the receivers unit.

Walker hasn't been a No. 1 since the Packers made him their No. 1 in the 2002 draft, but GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman is certain that the Florida State alumnus can handle the role.

"I had confidence in him when we drafted him," Sherman said, "and he's really making leaps and bounds in my mind."

As evidence of that, Sherman points to the Packers' playoff loss to Atlanta last season, when Walker caught a personal-best five passes for a Packers playoff rookie record of 104 yards.

Driver was unavailable late in that game due to injury, just like he was at the end of the Minnesota contest last weekend, when Walker again made five receptions, three of them -- including a touchdown -- in the game's final minutes, after Driver was removed from the field on a stretcher.

In both of those instances, when injuries thrust him into the spotlight, Walker has shown flashes of realizing Sherman's ultimate vision and becoming one of the game's dominant receivers.

He might get there sooner than you think.

In his weekly press conference Wednesday, Favre said he believes that Walker possesses all the physical tools necessary to take over a game right now. The only thing holding the second-year receiver back, Favre suggested, might be a lack of equal bravado.

Favre said he told Walker this week, "If you just wake up one day and say, 'You know what, no one's going to stop me,' then (you're) there."

"To me, that's the only thing he's lacking," Favre said. "He's got confidence, I won't say he doesn't have confidence, but he doesn't have complete confidence like a Robert Ferguson ... It's just a matter of Javon saying, 'Just throw me the ball.'"

His spot in the starting lineup assured, that seems to be Walker's mindset this week.

After a rookie season spent trying to prove himself, in 2003 Walker not only has a better understanding of the offense, but proof of his potential as well.

Asked how he would step up against the Lions, Walker didn't hesitate in his reply.

"I step up like I did last Sunday," he said. "I go in and I pick up where I left off ... I'm excited. I'm looking to go out and make plays."

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