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Walls Signing Upgrades Tight Ends


For Packers tight ends coach Jeff Jagodzinski, going to practice doesn't get much better than it did Wednesday.

Of course, most position coaches don't watch their corps' Pro Bowl experience go from two to seven overnight.

"It's fun," Jagodzinski said of seeing five-time Pro Bowler Wesley Walls on the Packers' practice field for the first time. "It's like (someone) pulling into your driveway and saying, 'Here's a new Vette to drive.'"

That's Vette as in Corvette, not as in veteran. Although after 14 NFL seasons, Walls unquestionably is that as well.

"He's got a little bit of miles on him," Jagodzinski said. "We've got an older-mileage Vette, but he's still a Vette."

And at this point, vintage is just fine for the Packers. With two-time Pro Bowler Bubba Franks leading the way, the offense doesn't need Walls to be an every-down vehicle, but it could always use extra help cruising the end zone.

GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman said Walls' exact role would be determined over the four upcoming preseason games, but the addition of the 37-year-old University of Mississippi alumnus automatically gives the offense another established scoring threat.

Of Walls' 430 career receptions, 53 have been for touchdowns.

"He's somebody that is a sure-handed, crafty tight end that can compliment Bubba Franks in the red zone," Sherman said. "We've done a number of things with two tight ends in the red zone, and maybe a little bit more of that at some time this season."

If a two-tight end attack reminds fans of the mid-90s Packers teams that thrived off the one-two punch of Keith Jackson and Mark Chmura, they aren't alone. Visions of a similar model of success enticed Walls to sign with the team.

"I'd like to come in and attack defenses with two tight ends," Walls said. "I know in the past here it was a big part of the offense ... I think I can contribute in that area, and I can help the running game too, if we want to bring two tight ends in there.

"Somebody will talk about my blocking, but I'm not opposed to blocking. I'm not scared of it. I'm ready to help out any way I can."

Jagodzinski said Walls gives the Packers' tight end unit "instant credibility." But Walls' most immediate contribution is stability.

Sidelined Wednesday were the Packers' backup tight ends from a year ago, third-year veteran David Martin (hamstring) and eighth-year veteran Tyrone Davis (knee).

Walls enters the mix as the No. 2, leaving Martin and Davis to headline a battle for what is presumably one remaining tight end spot on the regular season roster.

"I think you're going to find them getting a little bit healthy a little bit faster," Jagodzinski said of Martin and Davis. "Let's hope so anyway. They're going to have to compete for that third job, and I'm glad because I want to see those guys.

"Whoever wants it more is probably going to be the guy. It's going to bring out their best, and that's the best part of that deal."

Not that there was much risk involved in bringing Walls to Green Bay.

Although knee injuries have slowed him in recent years, Walls adds depth and options at a position where both were becoming in short supply.

"It's worth taking a shot on guys sometimes," quarterback Brett Favre said. "There's no substitute for experience and he's got lots of it.

"I know talent is always a big part of coaches and organization's decisions, and he still has that. The only question mark I'm sure in a lot of people's mind is the injury factor. Well, put him out there, let him play, let him do what he does.

"If he gets hurt, then that's a risk for all our guys. But it didn't really cost the team anything. I've seen him make plays in the past. And if he can do that for us, great."

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