Erik Walden wants to play every snap, but right now the Packers' fifth-year outside linebacker knows that’s not his role.
While there was a midseason stretch where Walden played nearly every down, he’s trying to make the most of his current situation - an even platoon with undrafted rookie Dezman Moses at left outside linebacker opposite Clay Matthews.
The byproduct of that could be a fresher and more productive Walden. At least, that’s the way it looked during last Saturday’s 24-10 win over the Vikings when Walden had three tackles, two quarterback hits and a sack in only 46 defensive snaps.
“It takes reps off of Erik and it’s taken reps off of Moses by having Erik in there,” Packers outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene said. “They’re both fine players and I want to give them both an opportunity to do their thing and have fun playing pro football and what they truly love doing. It’s very competitive between those two – who starts and who’s the guy coming in and giving the guy the blow, and it needs to be. It needs to be competitive. They’re both aware of that.”
Last month, Walden lost his starting spot to Moses after Matthews returned from a hamstring injury, but McCarthy made it clear both would see playing time going forward. Since then, Walden still seen more snaps (133-81) than Moses despite coming off the bench.
Walden believes he’s as fresh as he was last season, but he seemed to wear down late after being used as the primary starting right outside linebacker.
This year, however, he hopes he's peaking at exactly the right time.
“I think I kind of wore down a little bit physically, but that happens,” said Walden, who finished with 46 tackles, three sacks and two interceptions. “It’s just about how you respond. I'm trying to make sure I respond and finish strong.”