In the darkness surrounding the Packers' disappointing 1-4 start to the 2004 season, one light that has emerged shining brightly has been the play of wide receiver Javon Walker.
Walker, a third-year player out of Florida State, is in the midst of a breakout season that is seeing him establish himself as one of the elite receivers in the National Football League.
The 6-foot-3, 215-pound wideout is in the early stages of having one of the finest statistical seasons this team has ever seen.
Following his eight-catch, 159-yard night against Tennessee Monday, Walker leads the NFL with 535 receiving yards. His 31 catches rank him third in the NFC and tied for fourth in the league, and only Minnesota's Randy Moss (seven) and Philadelphia's Terrell Owens (six) have a higher tally than his five touchdown grabs.
Coming into this season, Walker had recorded just one 100-yard receiving game in his first 31 career contests. The 25-year old has now gone over the century mark in three of the team's last four contests, including a 200-yard outburst at Indianapolis in Week 3.
He has also shown a penchant for finding the end zone. Five of his 31 receptions in 2004 have resulted in six points for the Packers, and he has now found the end zone on 15 of his 95 catches in his short career, scoring on nearly one out of every six catches. Walker's 15.8% scoring ratio is the best among all active players with at least 50 career receptions.
Walker's one-yard TD catch Monday night on Craig Nall's first career touchdown pass gave the receiver a three-game scoring streak after hitting pay dirt three times against the Colts and once last week against the New York Giants. The three-game touchdown run matches a personal-best three-week scoring stretch Walker put up last season.
Teaming up with fellow receiver Donald Driver, the Green Bay passing attack has two of its most prolific targets in some time.
Walker and Driver, who himself caught 10 passes for 150 yards Monday night, have combined for the third-most catches by a receiving tandem in the league this season. Only St. Louis' venerable duo of Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt (68) and Eric Johnson and Curtis Conway of San Francisco (65) have more receptions than the 59 that Walker and Driver have pulled in.
When Driver and Walker each gained 150 yards through the air Monday against Tennessee, it marked just the third time in the storied history of the franchise that a pair of receivers has had that many yards.
Bill Schroeder and Antonio Freeman matched the feat in October 1999 against Tampa Bay. The only previous time a set of Green Bay pass-catchers had turned the trick was all the way back in November 1942, when Don Hutson and Andy Uram lit up the Chicago Cardinals.
While Walker's numbers have definitely been very impressive, speaking after Monday's game, he said he was only focused on the goals he has for the team turning the season around.
"We still have enough games to where, by the bye week we could still be 4-4," Walker said. "Last year going into the bye week, we were 3-4. Looking at it that way, hopefully we can make a big turnaround going into the second half."
If the Packers are to stage such a reversal of fortune, Walker will undoubtedly play a big part in their comeback.