Green Bay Packers 2022 first-round linebacker Quay Walker's solid rookie campaign was overshadowed by boneheaded mistakes that saw him ejected twice.
Walker was booted from a Week 8 game in Buffalo after pushing a Bills practice squad player on the sideline after a play. He ended his season with another ejection, this time in Week 18, with the Packers battling for their playoff lives, after shoving a Detroit Lions medical pro attempting to aid an injured player.
The after-play issues have been a focal point for linebacker coach Kirk Olivadotti this offseason.
"He and I spent a lot of time on that subject," Olivadotti said Wednesday. "The biggest thing is that I know and I trust Quay, that he and I've talked through that and had our conversations and kind of have a plan in place for a lot of different things. ... He's more than willing to learn from all his mistakes, especially those."
The plan is not only for Walker to understand the issues that led to those ejections but also to ensure he's too consumed to have time for extracurriculars.
"Play to the whistle, and then be so busy in between snaps that you don't even notice what else is going on because you're moving on to the next play," Olivadotti added. "There's other parts to it also, but that's a big part of it."
In 17 games, Walker generated 121 tackles (five for loss), four QB hits, 1.5 sacks and seven passes defensed. Like most rookies, the linebacker struggled out of the gate, but as the season wore on and Walker began to correctly diagnose plays, his talent and gap-closing speed were evident. The key for the first-rounder taking the next step is ensuring he keeps his head in the game.
The Packers could also attempt to move the second-year pro around more in 2023, something Green Bay pass rush specialist Jason Rebrovich was mum about Wednesday.
Rebrovich was asked how he sees Walker fitting into the pass-rush rotation. "Yes," he responded, which prompted a follow-up, given it wasn't a yes/no question.
"Yes," Rebrovich said again. "I'll leave it at that."
The vague nature of the response in May -- when a "we'll see how that goes in training camp" answer would have done just fine -- suggests the Packers expect to expand Walker's role, using him in a lesser-Micah Parsons-type role, getting after the quarterback more in obvious passing downs.
In order to see that role expand, Walker needs to first ensure that coaches can count on him staying on the field with his head in the game.