“I just feel like it’s an opportunity for guys to step up just like myself," Walls said today after practice. “For me it's just going into it with a positive mind, just going out there daily and trying to get better and just doing what I normally do. I think with those injuries now, it’s time for guys to step up, and why not me?”
Walls, entering his fourth season in the NFL, is listed third on the first depth chart released by the Jets this season at right corner behind
“I’m feeling pretty good going into my fourth season. I feel like I’m starting to become the player I want to be. I think I’m finally getting the confidence that I know I have to have to play the corner position. I mean, it’s a tough position, probably one of the toughest positions on the football field, so I feel like now I’m starting to get that confidence and develop to be a pretty good corner in the NFL.”
But to go from good to great, Walls must take his play to the next level.
“I wish Darrin could catch the ball a little better,” Ryan said Sunday. “He seems to lead the league in PBUs [pass breakups], so that’s something he's working on, even after practice with Eric Smith [former Jets safety turned coaching intern]. Part of it, he does good and gets in position. Now to be a great one, you've got to be able to make those plays. I know he wants to be as good as he can be and he’s working hard at that.”
Each year Walls has spent in the league, he has gotten better, exponentially so in some categories in 2013. He played in 16 games last year, had 21 tackles (18 of them solo) and four pass deflections. But to get better, he must turn some of those PDs into INTs. Walls brought up his ball-catching ability today after practice at SUNY Cortland.
“I feel like last year I’d done a lot of good things and I did a lot of things that hindered me a little bit, but I feel like this could be a good year for me,” the Notre Dame alum said. “Every year I feel like I have gotten better and I found something to get better at. This year is just catching the ball."
Walls said he has been through his fair share of tough times, which is part of the reason he is able to relate to what
“Oh, yeah, he’s definitely in good spirits. I feel like he knows what’s ahead of him. He knows that his rehab process is going to be tough. He’s a positive kid himself, he knows he has to go through this," Walls said. "He’s going through some adversity and I told him I’ve gone through some things in my life and you've got to come out stronger and I think he realizes that.”
Darrin’s strategy has always been to focus on the bright side of every situation, even in the face of the new challenges placed on the secondary with Sunday's injuries. The new developments don’t change the mood in the secondary, but they also don’t warrant any reason to look back.
“I feel like we know that injuries happen in the NFL and you know it’s unfortunate that it happened to him. We'd love to have him out there,” Walls said. “He’s a great player, brings a good skillset to our secondary.
"But we've got to move on. We have to keep going and keep getting better every day. We can't get back into 'I wish we had this' or 'I wish we had that' with him and Dee [Milliner] out. We need to be positive about it and make the best of the situation.”
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