Walker tears ACL, to miss rest of season

Updated: September 12, 2005, 8:00 PM ET
Associated Press

GREEN BAY, Wis. --The records Pro Bowl receiver Javon Walker now will chase are all about rehabilitation and not receptions.

Javon Walker
Wide Receiver
Green Bay Packers
Rec Yds TD Avg Long YAC
4 27 0 6.8 9 0

Brett Favre's best receiver will miss the rest of the season after tearing up his right knee in Green Bay's opening loss at Detroit on Sunday, the very thing his agent Drew Rosenhaus feared when trying unsuccessfully to get Walker a new contract over the summer.

Walker will need an operation once the swelling subsides to repair the torn anterior cruciate ligament and will require between eight and 12 months of rehabilitation.

"Talking to him last night, he's very positive and upbeat about it, understands what's ahead of him and is planning on breaking all kinds of records on getting back sooner," coach Mike Sherman said Monday.

Walker, who made the Pro Bowl last season after catching 89 passes for 1,382 yards and 12 touchdowns, threatened to hold out this season if the final two years of his contract weren't renegotiated.

But he showed up in training camp on time, saying he wanted to prove he was worthy of a blockbuster contract through his play. The risk, of course, was a serious injury that would limit his earning power -- just like the one he suffered Sunday.

He's due $515,000 this season, the fourth of a five-year deal he signed in 2002 for $7.485 million, and Rosenhaus said last summer he couldn't let Walker risk his health for that kind of money. He even requested the Packers trade their star receiver if they couldn't accommodate him.

The Packers refused and Walker said he couldn't fathom missing any practices, much less any games, in a contract dispute. So, he set out to have another big season in hopes the Packers would make him very, very rich soon.

Rosenhaus was on a flight Monday and unavailable for comment, according to a colleague who answered his cell phone.

Fans who chastised Walker should understand now why he wanted the new deal, some of his teammates suggested.

"I understood where he's coming from," wide receiver Robert Ferguson said. "I understood then and I understand now."

Walker's injury is a serious blow to the Packers and quarterback Brett Favre, whose team had never been held to as few as three points in any of his 226 consecutive starts, counting playoffs.

They sorely miss guards Marco Rivera and Mike Wahle, whose departures Favre felt dearly in Detroit, where he was sacked four times and knocked down another eight times.

The Packers will have to make do without one of the league's best deep threats and rising stars.

"Unfortunately, those things happen in the league," general manager Ted Thompson said. "The mark of the better teams and the better organizations are the ones that get back up off the ground."

Without Walker, Ferguson will start alongside Donald Driver, who will move from split end to flanker. Second-round draft pick Terrence Murphy, who missed much of training camp with a knee injury, will be force-fed the offense so he can serve as the No. 4 receiver behind kick returner Antonio Chatman.

Ferguson is the Packers' best special teams player. but he said he asked to be taken off the coverage units.

"I'm not playing special teams anymore," Ferguson said. "I don't have a choice. I had to go in and get IVs during the game. I can't do that and start [at receiver]. I told them, yeah. I'll probably do kick return or something like that. But as far as being on every special team, I can't do that."

Ferguson has been pining for a bigger role in the offense ever since injuries cost him a starting job last year and opened the door for Walker to have a breakout season.

Now, Ferguson hopes to do what Walker did a year ago.

"I was going to [have a Pro Bowl year] regardless of whether he got hurt or not," Ferguson declared. "Football is all about opportunities. I definitely didn't want it to happen this way. But it is what it is now."

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press