One of the most insightful practices in the offseason can be simply paying attention to which players are brought up by a coach when not prompted specifically about that player.
For example, last year the media picked up on Edwin Jackson and Chester Rogers as guys to watch when Chuck Pagano mentioned them during the offseason, and sure enough both of them stuck around. So it can be interesting to see which players are brought up in that regard, and during rookie mini-camp this weekend there’s one guy in particular that stood out from Pagano’s comments: Temple quarterback Phillip Walker.
On Friday, Pagano was asked simply which players stood out or surprised him in that day’s practice, and he mentioned Trey Griffey and Grover Stewart before spending considerable time talking about Walker.
“The quarterback,” Pagano said. “Schotty [Brian Schottenheimer] went up the 12th hour and worked out [Phillip] Walker at Temple. He’s an undersized guy and you want a 6-2, 6-3 guy but he can spin the ball. He’s a smart guy. He picked things up really well. Like I said, we sent Brian up there to work him out really late in the process. I think a Tuesday or a Wednesday before this draft started on Thursday and he came back and just fell in love with the guy. Identified him on tape, our scouts had him on tape, but fell in love with him. He had great command out there of the huddle. He took charge. He picked things up really quick and made some nice throws out there.”
It seems that Pagano and the Colts really like Phillip Walker, and Pagano brought him up again on Saturday. Pagano was asked about linebacker Anthony Walker, and Pagano began his answer by saying, “He’s done a great job. Just like the other [Phillip] Walker that’s leading the other side, the quarterback.” Pagano did go on to talk more about Anthony Walker and has been very impressed with him, but it should be noted that Pagano brought up Phillip Walker too.
So what does it mean? Perhaps it’s nothing, but at the very least I think it’s perhaps an indication that Walker is a guy we should keep an eye on this offseason. It sounds like Chuck Pagano, Brian Schottenheimer, and the Colts’ scouts all are big fans of Walker, and it also seems like Walker has had a good rookie mini-camp too and has stood out.
He had a very impressive collegiate career too, as he was a four-year starter at Temple and racked up all sorts of career accomplishments, as he is the school’s all-time leader in attempts, completions, passing yards, passing touchdowns, and total offense. He also was the first QB in school history to lead the team to multiple bowl games. In all, he started 49 games and threw for 10,668 yards and 74 touchdowns against 44 picks while completing 55.8% of his passes.
Chris Ballard had mentioned earlier this offseason that the Colts were going to add a fourth quarterback to the roster, and that happened when they signed Walker shortly after the draft. There was also a report earlier this offseason that the Colts were one of the teams doing some research on the free agent backup quarterbacks, which would seem to suggest that they’re at least open to moving on from Scott Tolzien as the backup. That wouldn’t be a huge surprise either, though Tolzien probably remains the favorite for the job. Stephen Morris is also on the roster and impressed in preseason last year. The point? There may be a competition for the backup quarterback spot, in which case Phillip Walker could have a shot at making the 53-man roster - and if not, he would indeed figure to have a shot at making the practice squad.
Considering the praise Chuck Pagano had for Walker this weekend, he might be an UDFA to keep an eye on this offseason.