Falcons rookie linebacker Mykal Walker has been making an impact throughout training camp, so much so that he has run reps with the first team.
A fourth-round pick out of Fresno State, Walker is extremely versatile. While in college, he played both linebacker and defensive end, which gives the Falcons several ways to deploy him.
“There are so many different places they can line you up,” Walker said. “It’s similar to what I was doing at Fresno. ...They move me all around. It kind of taps into things I didn’t know that I could do."
“It boosts [my confidence] huge,” Walker said. “The first day, I’m not going to lie, the very first play I was in there I was like, 'Oh wow I’m in here with the ones.' I kind of had a fanboy moment for a second just looking around with the guys. I mean after that it only takes one play, one play to spark it off and you get comfortable.”
Due to COVID-19, the NFL has had to adopt an adjusted format for training camp. The biggest change is that there will be no preseason games for rookies to showcase their skills and get a small taste of NFL football.
“It’s a bummer not having those preseason games just to earn your stripes from the coaching staff,” Walker said. “But for me, I just take it as a challenge. Just every opportunity you get, you’re not going to get many opportunities.”
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Walker has been able to get up to speed quickly because of the way the Falcons teach their defense.
“The biggest thing is our coach,” Walker said. “ The way he taught us those months ago, when we were doing those virtual meetings, it was like, 'Hey this is the play, this what you’re going to do.' He just schemes, so if you know what this scheme is you can apply that principle to every call.”
Welcome To The League
There is a big difference between playing in the NFL and playing at Fresno State, and Walker learned that quickly.
“They ran a play-action pass, and they had Julio running to the corner, and I was supposed to be running underneath him,” Walker said. "I was running as fast as I could and I was not getting underneath him. I was like, 'OK I gotta rethink.' Julio is a little faster than what you see on tape."