Experience: Fourth season
View photos of safety Tracy Walker from Detroit Lions training camp practice.
Outlook: By his own admission this offseason, 2020 was a bit of a down season for Walker.
But it's a whole new year in 2021 for the Detroit Lions' defense with a new scheme and new hope that this year will be much better than the last both individually for players and collectively as a unit.
Walker is back to playing more of a free safety role in Aaron Glenn's split safety scheme, and that has Walker really hopeful for a bounce-back season. He's much more comfortable roaming the field, reading the quarterback and trying to make plays off of his instincts.
Walker is a natural leader and good communicator, and that's so vital at the safety position. He's received praise from Glenn early in camp for his understanding of the scheme and ability to communicate with the cornerbacks and linebackers to get the defense into the right looks.
Walker led the Lions in 2019 with 103 tackles and also defended eight passes and recorded an interception in 13 games (12 starts). Those numbers dropped to 87 tackles in 15 games (seven starts) last year with just four passes defended and no interceptions.
For the Lions to be better on defense, Walker needs to be a productive part of their back seven.
He's had a nice start to camp, and we'll see how this new scheme and his new role can get him back to playing the kind of football we saw from him in 2019.
Practice report: Walker and third-year player Will Harris were the starting safeties with the first-team defense Friday, and that's been the case for the majority of camp.
It was a pretty quiet practice for Walker overall, which is a good sign. He wasn't targeted a lot in the passing game.
There was one instance, however, where wide receiver Kalif Raymond made a nice move on the corner and Walker, and got behind them both. Quarterback Jared Goff launched the ball about 60 yards downfield, but threw it just a couple yards too far and the ball fell incomplete. During the following special teams period, Walker ran over to the replay screens the Lions have outside at practice and kept viewing the play over and over to see how he could have played it better and not let Raymond get behind him.
The team went through some one-on-one tackling drills earlier in practice, and Walker went a little too high on running back Jermar Jefferson. Jefferson was able to spin out of the tackle.
A little later in another team period, Walker gave wide receiver Geronimo Allison a good shoulder along the sideline after a short catch that pushed Allison into a portable fence. It was right in front of the fans and they seemed to appreciate the physicality.
Quotable: "They are the ones who kind of run the show back there," Lions head coach Dan Campbell said of the safety position. "They set the table for us in coverage. So, to have a safety that is very vocal – I'll tell you what, Tracy is as smart as a whip.
"I have a good Tracy Walker story for you. We come out (earlier in the week), he runs up on his own and goes, 'Hey Coach, I'm getting a pick. I'm getting a pick today and I'm going to bring it to you.' I said, 'OK, you promise?' He goes, 'I promise. It's coming.'
"Well, he didn't get one. So, I fined him. In the team meeting I said, 'I'm, fining you for that $50, but I'm going to pay the fine.' So, I paid the fine, but he owes me two.
"He's been outstanding and I'll tell you what, Will Harris is doing well. I know it's early, but we've been impressed. He's really coming along and picking up this defense. You can just see the secondary beginning to grow, you can. They're starting to figure this thing out. They're starting to mesh."