Quay Walker

Photo of linebacker Quay Walker. Courtesy: Green Bay Packers

Quay Walker was all but a lock to play meaningful snaps when Green Bay selected him 22nd overall in the 2022 NFL draft.

Try every snap.

In Week 9 at Detroit, the rookie linebacker from Georgia was one of three defenders, joining safeties Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage, to receive 100% of the Packers’ defensive snaps, a first for Walker.

Another first occurred against the Lions for the 6-foot-4, 240-pound 22-year-old: Walker repped the green dot on the back of his helmet, indicating he was the communicator between coaches and players, a job usually held by 2021 All-Pro linebacker De’Vondre Campbell, who was inactive with a knee injury.

Walker had the week to prepare for his test of leadership Sunday. Keep in mind, replacing Campbell’s production wasn’t as significant as properly relaying the defensive play calls and keeping the unit calm.

An important objective for a fairly inexperienced player who got caught slipping just one week earlier.

At Buffalo, before Campbell hurt his knee, Walker was ejected for shoving Bills practice squad tight end Zach Davidson, in street clothes, on the sideline after forcing running back James Cook out of bounds.

Walker had to do a complete 180: Trade out his uncontrolled emotion and really be the big cheese.

The results weren’t crazy impressive. Detroit, after all, won the game. The Lions also converted 6 of 11 on third down (55%), went 2-for-2 in goal-to-go situations and mostly kept QB Jared Goff way too clean.

That said, there were signs of life from Green Bay’s defense.

The Packers held the Lions to 254 total yards, a not-so-healthy 3.8 yards per carry, came away with an interception and stopped Detroit on a crucial fourth-and-3 at the Green Bay 43-yard line with 2:04 left.

Oh and by the way, Green Bay gave up 15 points to an offense that averaged 25 its first seven games.

Individually, Walker didn’t amaze. He posted five tackles (four solo), which tied for third on the team, and dropped former Packers RB Jamaal Williams for a two-yard loss on a run up the gut in the fourth.

Note: Walker was outtackled, 8-5, by Krys Barnes, who played 25 snaps (40%) in his return from injured reserve. Barnes missed the seven games previous due to an ankle injury.

According to Pro Football Focus, Walker actually had one of his worst games as a Packer. The analytics site dished Walker an overall defensive grade of 46.0, his lowest mark since Week 6 and tied for fourth worst this season. Walker’s issues were exacerbated on passing plays, an area he’s struggled all year. Targeted four times in coverage Sunday, Walker allowed three catches for 36 yards, and 24 YAC.

Detroit’s first touchdown, a one-yard pass to tight end Shane Zylstra, captured Walker’s growing pains. Diagnosing a run all the way on a Goff play fake, Walker floated in no-man’s land, between the end-zone paint and the Lions backfield. Zylstra, meanwhile, ran untouched off the line, invisible to Walker, whose eyes were pinned on the quarterback and not on his run-pass reads. That’s right, a classic rookie mistake.

Overall, we’re impressed by what Walker has achieved. Ranking second on Green Bay in tackles, with 62, and not missing a single snap on defense while wearing the green dot in NFL game No. 9 is quite the resume.

Other notes from Sunday’s snap counts:

– Worse than Green Bay’s loss itself is who the Packers lost Sunday. Outside linebacker Rashan Gary and cornerback Eric Stokes, two pillars of Joe Barry’s defense, suffered lower-body injuries vs. Detroit. Gary played 28 snaps, exiting in the third quarter. Matt LaFleur confirmed most everyone’s suspicion Monday: Gary tore his ACL and is done for the season. The Green Bay coach wasn’t as quick to make a conclusion about Stokes, who hurt his ankle and knee with 4:19 left in the first quarter and was limited to 10 snaps.

– Special teams ace Keisean Nixon got thrust into the spotlight due to Stokes’ status. Rather than assuming Stokes’ role, Nixon slid inside, manned the slot and passed wide cornerback duties to Rasul Douglas. The shuffle resulted in Nixon playing 39, or 63%, of Green Bay’s defensive snaps, his most since handling 31 in Week 4, and Douglas receiving 59 of 62 snaps, his highest percentage (95%) since Week 4. (Note: Jaire Alexander was inactive that game, hence the demand for Douglas and Nixon to play more.)

– A couple rookie wide receivers got dinged up Sunday. Fourth-rounder Romeo Doubs was carted off with an ankle injury after making an 18-yard catch on Green Bay’s first offensive play. Second-rounder Christian Watson was held out for precautionary reasons after taking a shot in the third quarter. Watson managed 17 snaps in his return from a concussion suffered in the Week 8 Bills game. LaFleur said doctors ruled out another concussion and that Watson was “dying to go back in the game. We thought it was best to shut him down because of what transpired in Buffalo.” Doubs apparently has a high-ankle sprain.

– Listed as questionable to play all week, Allen Lazard returned from a shoulder injury that sidelined him a game and a half and wasn’t on a snap count. Lazard led Packers skill players with 65 offensive snaps (88%) and submitted a 4-87-1 receiving line on a team-high 10 targets – double the amount directed at Josiah Deguara, the next closest player – and 45 routes. On that note, Deguara kind of came out of nowhere, grabbing five receptions, a career high, on 28 snaps, third most among Green Bay tight ends.

– Season debut alert: Running back Kylin Hill toted the rock once, on his only snap, for a pickup of seven yards over the left tackle in the fourth quarter. Hill, a 2021 draft pick from Mississippi State, was activated off the PUP and added to the 53 man Nov. 2, and appeared in his first game since tearing his ACL while returning a kick at Arizona on Oct. 28, 2021. As a rookie, Hill carried 10 times for 24 yards. If Aaron Jones, whose left foot was in a walking boot after playing 30 snaps, has any setbacks between now and Sunday’s clash with the Cowboys, Hill presumably would split backfield touches with AJ Dillon.

Myers 74 100%
Nijman 74 100%
Jenkins 74 100%
Rodgers 74 100%
Lazard 65 88%
Runyan 61 82%
Watkins 60 80%
Dillon 49 66%
Tom 45 61%
Bakhtiari 42 57%
Tonyan 34 46%
Lewis 32 43%
Jones 30 41%
Deguara 28 38%
Toure 28 38%
Am. Rodgers 19 26%
Watson 17 23%
Davis 5 7%
Hill 1 1%
Newman 1 1%
Doubs 1 1%
Amos 62 100%
Walker 62 100%
Savage 62 100%
Alexander 61 98%
Douglas 59 95%
Smith 50 81%
Clark 49 79%
Reed 45 73%
Nixon 39 63%
Lowry 37 60%
Gary 28 45%
Enagbare 26 42%
Barnes 25 40%
Garvin 20 32%
Slaton 18 29%
McDuffie 15 24%
Stokes 10 16%
Wyatt 10 16%
Ford 4 6%