Rasheed Walker’s play has earned him regular reps with Packers starting offense

LANDOVER, MD - OCTOBER 23: Rasheed Walker #63 of the Green Bay Packers warms up before the game against the Washington Commanders at FedExField on October 23, 2022 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
LANDOVER, MD - OCTOBER 23: Rasheed Walker #63 of the Green Bay Packers warms up before the game against the Washington Commanders at FedExField on October 23, 2022 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

Green Bay Packers offensive tackle Rasheed Walker entered training camp as someone competing for a roster spot. But now, in the span of just a few weeks, he is a lock to make the team and has spent the better part of the last week playing with the starting offense as the left tackle.

Walker has spent pretty much all of training camp lined up at left tackle, with most of his snaps coming with the second-team offense. He played 54 snaps with the second unit in Cincinnati and surrendered just one pressure.

That performance, coupled with the body of work that Walker had put together in practice, vaulted him to the starting lineup when David Bakhtiari was on the sidelines, which ended up being in three of the four practices. Typically in Bakhtiari’s absence, we had seen Yosh Nijman at left tackle with the ones.

Continuing to play well, Matt LaFleur wanted to see what Walker could handle, so he gave him the start at left tackle in the preseason game against New England, once again going up against the Patriots’ starting defense. Walker rose to the challenge, recording the highest pass-blocking grade of any Packers’ offensive linemen while allowing no pressures in 23 pass-blocking snaps.

Out of 96 eligible offensive tackles this preseason, Walker ranks 14th in PFF’s pass-blocking efficiency metric and had the 24th-best run-blocking grade in Week 2 out of 114 tackles.

"“Rasheed had a really good week of practice and we wanted to see him,” said LaFleur following the game against New Engalnd. “I talked to coach Belichick throughout the course of the week and had a pretty good indication that they were going to play their ones and we wanted to see how he would respond in that situation.”"

What Green Bay’s plan is with Walker remains a bit of a mystery. LaFleur and company could simply just be trying to get a better look at Walker to know what they have in him if injuries were to happen along the offensive line.

Jacob Westendorf, who covers the Packers for SI’s Packers Central, threw out the idea that perhaps Green Bay would consider playing Walker at right tackle and moving Zach Tom to center, given Josh Myers’ inconsistent play. When it comes to offensive line configurations, the Packers have certainly surprised us before.

But with that said, it’s not as if Nijman has struggled in training camp, so considering that the Packers often have valued experience when making these decisions in the past, I’m not so sure that Walker has jumped Nijman on the depth chart. Also, up to this point in training camp, Walker has only been at left tackle, but perhaps that could change at practice this upcoming week.

Or maybe, because there is a transition that comes with moving from one side of the offensive line to the other, the Packers want Nijman solely getting reps at right tackle, in the event that he could take over if Tom were to have to move inside due to poor play or injury. Although, it’s again worth noting that when speaking to the media on Sunday, LaFleur did say that Myers has been “picking up his play each week.”

If I were to guess right now, the first option is what I would say is the most likely. Based on everything we’ve seen up to this point in practice, all signs point to Myers being at center come Week 1 and Tom at right tackle, with David Bakhtairi, Elgton Jenkins, and Jon Runyan filling their usual roles.

However, even if that is the case, it doesn’t take away from the big developmental leap that Walker has made in his second NFL offseason. Looking ahead to 2024, when Nijman is a free agent, and Bakhtiari could be released or traded for salary cap savings, Walker could very well be in the mix for one of the starting offensive tackle positions.

"“The attention to detail,” said Walker in the locker room after last Monday’s practice when asked about the difference between Year 1 and Year 2 for him. “And I feel like my focus has gotten better. I know what I’m doing a little bit more better. That’s been helping a lot.“Whenever my name is called, I’m ready.”"