P.J. Walker is a reputation that almost all NFL followers possible aren’t all that conversant in. A former XFL quarterback who spent a majority of 2020 driving the bench for the Carolina Panthers, Walker is much from a longtime expertise in at present’s NFL.
Earlier than the Panthers’ first preseason sport towards the Indianapolis Colts, many analysts and beat writers had Walker penciled in as somebody who might be on the chopping block earlier than Week 1 of the 2021 season.
It’s nonetheless early within the preseason, however thus far, Walker has achieved the alternative of what these specialists and writers predicted. He’s enjoying himself right into a everlasting job with the Panthers.
P.J. Walker is a former XFL famous person
Walker signed a two-year contract with the Panthers final offseason, however earlier than that, he was making waves in the short-lived XFL. An impartial soccer league constructed by WWE proprietor Vince McMahon, the XFL served as a chance for fringe NFL expertise and undrafted free brokers to showcase their worth to professional scouts. Diehard followers of the league hoped it will stick round and rival the NFL, however that dream rapidly died after the one season.
Walker, a former Temple graduate, took benefit of the organized soccer video games. He shined because the Houston Roughnecks’ beginning quarterback, recording 1,338 passing yards and 16 complete touchdowns.
Walker garnered some nationwide consideration for his performances, particularly his last one on March 7, 2020, towards the Seattle Dragons. Walker threw for 351 yards and three touchdowns whereas recording a passer ranking of 104.2.
Discovering a house with the Carolina Panthers
The Panthers weren’t Walkers’ first NFL staff. He signed with the Colts instantly after school as an undrafted free agent in 2017. He ended up primarily residing on the staff’s observe squad, finally being outright launched in August of 2019.
Walker fared a lot better with the Panthers, primarily because of the present relationship with head coach Matt Rhule. Employed by Carolina in 2020, Rhule was Walker’s head coach at Temple. This established connection performed a big position in Walker receiving a respectable contract with the Panthers, together with the on-field expertise that he displayed throughout the XFL’s transient common season.
Walker tried 56 complete passes throughout his first season with the Panthers and didn’t fare significantly properly. He threw 4 interceptions in comparison with only one landing and recorded a completion proportion of 57.1%. As unhealthy of a yr because it was for Walker, he was within the constructing studying an NFL system, which at all times bodes properly for a participant’s long-term future.
Walker flashed potential throughout his first preseason sport
Walker received many of the reps with Sam Darnold sitting out throughout the Panthers’ first preseason sport. Whereas it wasn’t the best of performances by any stretch of the creativeness, Walker nonetheless discovered a technique to persistently transfer the ball downfield towards a sometimes above-average Colts protection.
Walker completed the sport with 161 passing yards and one landing, together with a handful of spectacular “Houdini” impressions within the pocket. Walker appeared snug weaving away from defenders, holding his eyes downfield for open receivers.
It’s a small stepping stone for Walker in his NFL profession, but it surely’s potential the Panthers even have a participant price investing into right here. To not be a starter (clearly), however as a possible long-term backup behind Darnold or whoever the subsequent beginning QB finally ends up being in Carolina. Walker continues to be simply 26 years outdated and would possible profit from one other few years of improvement below the steerage of Rhule and the Panthers’ teaching employees.
His subsequent two preseason appearances ought to give us a clearer image of what to anticipate from Walker transferring ahead, if he’s the kind of participant who can blossom right into a dependable QB2 for Carolina.