If it wasn't for a phone call he received last February, Wesley Walls might still have been playing for the other guys this weekend instead of the Green Bay Packers.
It was then that the all-time touchdowns leader in Carolina Panthers history was told by his team of seven years that it was going in a different direction.
"They wanted me to take a reduced role and (asked) could I handle it and take a step back from the starting position," Walls explained this week. "They were going to bring in some new guys and were going to try to replace me basically ... They said, 'How about we release you and you go try to find another place, maybe in an offense that better suits your skills?'"
Signed by the Packers August 5, Walls didn't find a starting job in Green Bay, but he believes he's found that perfect situation.
Playing behind Bubba Franks, Walls gives the Packers another legitimate scoring threat, especially when the offense lines up in two-tight end sets inside the red zone.
"It's going to give defenses headaches," Franks said. "You can run the ball to either side ... you can pass the ball to either side, so the defense never really knows the strength of the offense. That just gives us another weapon."
Having been with the team for less than three weeks, the 37-year-old Walls is still chipping away at an offseason's-worth of rust. He's also trying to establish a rhythm with fellow Mississippian Brett Favre.
But in that short stay, GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman believes the Packers have already benefited from the presence of the 15th-year veteran.
"He hasn't dropped many balls, but when he drops one and makes a mistake, he gets very upset with himself," Sherman said. "Before you even say a word to him, he's already talking to himself an correcting himself. I think our players can watch him and know why he's a Pro Bowl player."
Franks is among those watching Walls closest of all.
With two Pro Bowls to his name, Franks still trails Walls by three in that category, and is looking to close the gap any way he can.
"I've caught myself back here stealing moves from him," Franks said after a practice at Clarke Hinkle Field. "I feel like that can only help me become a better tight end."
Franks said the biggest lesson he's learned from Walls is how to get open by using his feet, rather than his hands.
Walls is happy to be the professor, but balks at the notion that the instruction flows only one way.
"Bubba is a hard-working tight end with a lot of athletic ability," Walls said. "He's going to make me better."
Tight ends coach Jeff Jagodzinski agrees, noting that with two Pro Bowl athletes pushing one another, his main job will be "to make sure they get on the bus all right."
"There's something different about those guys," Jagodzinski said. "I can see it in their practice habits and the way they play and produce."
And while the addition of Walls could cut into some of Franks' receptions this season, especially if the defense favors the No. 1 tight end, it should help the Packers in a more significant statistical category.
"All we're worried about is getting wins," Jagodzinski said. "If they both do what they're supposed to do, we'll win some games."