By Rick Teverbaugh CNHI News Service
---- — ANDERSON — Playing successfully in the NFL means getting on the same page with teammates and coaches.
That meeting of the minds may still have some ground to cover in the case of outside linebacker Erik Walden and defensive coordinator Greg Manusky.
When asked about Walden, Manusky offered, “When we saw him coming out of Green Bay and when we picked him up as a free agent, he was a great player in the sense of setting the edge. We always talk about setting the edge on either side. That’s what he did with the Packers and we expect him to do it here.”
Walden, who came from a two-year-plus stint with Green Bay, isn’t quite so sure about that part of it.
“I’m working on how to utilize my skills more effectively,” said Walden. “I’m still learning what my goal will be here.”
Yet Walden knows the job of setting the edge and can describe it in some detail.
“It is just kind of setting up a wall for the defense and allows the inside backers, along with the rest of the pursuit and the other defensive players to be able to make a play on the ball.”
Walden is 6-foot-2 and 250 pounds from Middle Tennessee State. He has played in the league five years and for three teams before joining Indianapolis as a free agent. He sees this season as a hookup with a positive team with a real chancer to contribute.
“Just a great organization,” Walden said of the Colts. “I mean, any time you got a great organization with a great quarterback and a winning franchise, that’s half of it right there. I prayed about it and I just felt that this was the best fit for me.”
The adjustment to Indianapolis hasn’t been a big one.
“There are a lot of similarities,” Walden said when comparing Green Bay to Indianapolis. “The terminology changes.”
One change has been a positive one. “There’s more of a family feeling here,” said Walden. “This is still a team game so having that family atmosphere is a big deal. We’ve got some characters on this team. Everybody has just got to be themselves.”
Walden spent a number of years working behind perennial All-Pro Clay Mathews and learning the craft. Now he’s learning from Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne even though they play different positions.
“When I see Reggie out there doing the things he does, going above and beyond what is asked of him, that makes a huge impact,” said Walden. “It makes you want to go out and work like that.”
Nothing is certain in the NFL and that’s why Walden intends to not let
this opportunity slip away.
“It’s all about a new season,” said Walden. “Everybody is zero and zero and so you just have to take advantage of it and cherish it, but as the same time know exactly what you are here for.” That is becoming more apparent every day.