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O'HARA: Walker taking on a bigger leadership role after re-signing this offseason

Tracy Walker has felt like a quiet leader since he came to the Detroit Lions as a third-round draft pick in 2018.

That will change this year.

Walker will be a leader, but not a quiet one.

Walker's position as a leader was solidified in an offseason conversation he had with head coach Dan Campbell when Walker was re-signed to a multi-year contract.

"It was a great conversation," Walker said Wednesday. "It was about how excited we both were for me to come back. When I came back and made that decision, I knew I was coming home."

Walker played 44 games at safety with 19 starts in his first three seasons. His role increased last year under Campbell and defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn. Walker missed two games because of an injury but started the other 15.

He had a career-high 108 tackles with 74 of them solos – also a career high. He also had an interception and three tackles for loss.

Walker felt he was a leader earlier with the Lions, but there were older players in that role ahead of him.

Now he's one of those older players – in his fifth season, at the age of 27.

"My role right now is to lead," he said. "Not just vocally, but by example."

Campbell said he could see Walker emerging as a vocal leader, along with other players such as defensive lineman Charles Harris, who had a career-high 7.5 sacks in 2021 and was re-signed to a two-year contract.

"Absolutely, and I could feel it coming," Campbell said of Walker. "He's been a man on a mission. I'd say Charles has, too. It's one of the reasons we wanted to re-sign them. 'This is your team. Same thing with any of these guys. This is your defense.'

"I love where he (Walker) is at. I love where he's taken his leadership. You can tell he's taking it seriously, and it's not just lip service. He puts the work in."

View photos from Day 7 of Detroit Lions training camp on Wednesday August 3, 2022.

Walker has a new partner in the back end of the secondary. DeShon Elliott was signed after four years with the Baltimore Ravens. Elliott has been a recent starter when healthy. He started all 16 games in 2020 and the six he played in 2021.

Walker and Elliott quickly developed a bond. They have similar work habits and a desire to improve.

"He's very passionate about the game," Walker said. "The way he approaches his work each and every day -- he's always asking questions. A lot of guys don't do that. A lot of people feel like they have all the answers.

"He's an open book. He's always trying to be the best person he can be."

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