DeMarcus Walker has traveled a path from dealing with pneumonia to potentially earning a spot on Texans’ roster.
The veteran defensive lineman is making a strong bid to make the team after missing the start of training camp due to COVID-19.
“Being six days behind with the whole COVID and everything, pneumonia that I had, I had to hit the ground running with learning the details, the technique,” Walker said. “So, Green Bay, the Cowboys, the Bucs, I had to make the most out of my opportunities.
“To be honest with you, I was able to get my conditioning test done in, I think like five days. So that was actually shocking to me, because I lost like seven pounds from pneumonia. Through the whole working in the offseason, obviously it shows that anything that’s for me was for me.”
A former Denver Broncos second-round draft pick from Florida State, the 6-foot-4, 280-pounder had 4 1/2 sacks and one forced fumble in 13 games and four starts last season for the Broncos. In 36 career games, he has 10 1/2 career sacks, 51 tackles and 17 quarterback hits.
Walker was extremely difficult to block against the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers with six tackles, including a sack and a forced fumble. He also tagged Buccaneers quarterback Blaine Gabbert down in the end zone for a safety.
Now, Walker awaits word on whether he’s earned one of the Texans’ final roster spots.
“I mean, it’s a business,” Walker said. “ Every year you’re in the league you feel like you get numb to it, but when you start asking, you start seeing, it gets you every year. So, it’s a business.
“I don’t even know if I made the team yet. You just got to control what you can control. I would say it’s just time-consuming. You’re just watching the clock, you’re waiting. I don’t know.”
Walker said one of the reasons he’s glad he picked the Texans after talking with general manager Nick Caserio and coach David Culley is how the players are treated. Their voice is included by the organization.
“I feel like everybody as a club has their own way of doing things,” Walker said “Me, personally, I like how you get more of a voice and being able to communicate. And me personally, they let me be myself. I feel like, get to know someone for yourself before you try to place any judgment on them. I felt like everybody in this organization, from ‘Ro’ (head trainer Roland Ramirez), to Nick to coach Lovie (Smith), to coach (Bobby) King, everybody has got to know me for themselves and have their own story about me.
“Obviously you cherish that because it’s not a strap-and-play type of time no more. That era is over with. I feel like just not only in life but with this job too, people have a voice, you have a platform, everybody has a platform in their hand. Everybody has freedom to say whatever they want. So, I feel like in a work area if it’s the right thing, for the best for everybody, you should have your voice be heard.”
Walker is part of one of the deepest positions on the team, including Charles Omenihu, Whitney Mercilus, Maliek Collins, Vincent Taylor, Jacob Martin, Jordan Jenkins, Roy Lopez, Jaleel Johnson and Jon Greenard.
“Yeah, man, pretty deep,” Walker said. “A lot of good quality guys, good talented guys put together. I feel like when you have it like that you get the best out of everyone. If you have so many great guys, whoever puts in that time and is not scared of that competition and ultimately believes in themselves, it should be a good year.”
Aaron Wilson has covered the NFL for 20 seasons, including the Texans, Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars. He has previously written for The Houston Chronicle and The Baltimore Sun. He’s on Twitter: @AaronWilson_NFL and Instagram: @aaronwilson7128.