Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Opportunity falls into Walter's lap

Bill Belichick wasn't about to go into specifics, but he made it clear that his plan against the New York Giants on Thursday is to give more playing time to those players who didn't see as much last Friday against Washington.

"I would expect that the players that played more against Washington will probably play a little less against the Giants," he said in his press conference on Tuesday, "and some of the players that played less against Washington will play more against the Giants."

That means you, Andrew Walter.

The former Oakland Raiders quarterback saw next to no playing time in Washington on Friday, getting into the game only for one series in the fourth quarter. The bulk of the second-half playing time went to the now-departed Kevin O'Connell, and that means Walter and rookie Brian Hoyer will play virtually all of the Patriots' final preseason game on Thursday.

(If Tom Brady plays at all, it will be in a cameo role for a series or two. Even if he was completely healthy, he'd be out of the game by the end of the first quarter -- such is tradition for the NFL's fourth preseason game.)

Walter started eight games for the Oakland Raiders in 2006, his second season, and the numbers weren't impressive: He completed 53.3 percent of his passes and threw just three touchdown passes to go along with 13 interceptions and an incredible 46 sacks absorbed.

Then again, that was with the Raiders.

Walter was released in late July and signed with the Patriots less than a week later. The release of O'Connell means his spot on the depth chart appears a little more secure, but that doesn't mean his role has changed.

"My role was pretty clear before: Continue to learn and develop," he said. "However it ends up in the end, it's sort of in my control but out of my control. The No. 1 thing that I'm concerned about is, after I'm done talking to you, is to go and have a good meeting and then to go and have a good practice and so on and so forth. It's all short-term right now."

Walter hasn't had many chances to show his stuff with the Patriots so far: He's attempted just nine passes in the team's three preseason games.

"Those are all coaches' decisions," Walter said. "I'm a pro. If they tell me to play, I'll play -- or to watch, watch and stand, stand."

That, in part, seems to have to do with the team's desire to give O'Connell a chance to succeed within the system.

But O'Connell failed to seize the opportunity, and that means Walter will get some of the reps this week that he didn't get last week or the week before that -- or, for that matter, while he was still under contract with the Raiders.

"Andrew came into the process kind of late," Belichick said. "He missed all of the spring and the early part of training camp. We wanted to give him a fair opportunity to pick things up. He's improved in a lot of areas. It's a new offense for him, and he's worked to get those things down and tried to execute our offense.

"There's some new learning going on there, and there's some things that we've asked him to do that he either hasn't had a chance to do yet or only has had a chance to do one or two times and certainly not in all the situations he could see given all the coverages we face. We want to continue to work with him."

No comments: