Jags WR Walker loses father on day of friend's funeral

Updated: December 8, 2008, 6:00 PM ET
Associated Press

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Receiver Mike Walker will have to bury his best friend and his father in a span of days.

Walker did not travel to Chicago to attend the Saturday funeral of his best friend, Winfred L. Ezell, who was fatally stabbed Nov. 27 in an Orlando nightclub. Walker's father, Michael Sims, died the same day as the funeral.

Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio delivered the news Monday when asked why Walker didn't make the trip. Del Rio said he expected Walker to be back at practice Wednesday.

It's been a difficult two years for Walker, a third-round draft pick in 2007.

The former Central Florida star missed all of his rookie season while recovering from a left knee injury. He made his debut this season and enjoyed a breakout game Oct. 5 against Pittsburgh with six receptions for 107 yards. But he sprained the medial collateral ligament in his right knee late in the game.

Walker spent four nights in a local hospital after a staph infection developed in the surrounding joint. He missed four games, and just when he was expected to get back in the mix, had to deal with the death of his friend.

Ezell, 23, was stabbed late Thanksgiving night. Walker, who was home for the holiday, arrived on the scene and found his friend lying in a pool of blood before he was rushed away in an ambulance and pronounced dead at a hospital a short time later.

There were no immediate details on the death of Walker's father.

Walker has 14 catches for 176 yards in six games this season. The Jaguars could count on him more down the stretch, especially if they have to play without leading receiver Matt Jones and Jerry Porter.

Jones was awaiting word on a possible suspension stemming from his July arrest on a cocaine possession charge. Jones, who has 65 catches for 761 yards and two touchdowns, appealed a three-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy in October.

His appeal was heard last week, and Jones expected to the find out the results before Wednesday.

Porter, the team's top offseason acquisition who has been slowed all season following hamstring surgery, injured his groin late against the Bears. He was undergoing tests Monday and could be sidelined again.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press