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‘More powerful’ Walker could be impact DT for Lions

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
Tyrunn Walker

Allen Park – The addition of Tyrunn Walker via free agency last year was met with praise from multiple analysts who believed the Detroit Lions were mining a potential diamond in the rough. But the big defensive tackle barely got an opportunity to prove those observers correct because a broken leg prematurely ended his season in Week 4.

Still, the Lions liked what they saw from Walker in that short time and brought him back on a second one-year contract, this version laden with playing-time incentives.

Walker healed quickly from his injury and has been able to practice all offseason. During Sunday’s padded practice, he reminded the team’s offensive linemen just how difficult he can be to contain.

“It was kind of a different sweetness for me,” Walker said about putting on the pads for the first time since his Oct. 5 injury.

In many ways, Walker looks like an improved player compared to this time last year. Having previously played in a 3-4 defensive scheme, which largely asked him to operate laterally, the interior lineman initially struggled with the north-south explosion Detroit’s scheme expects from its defensive linemen.

And while you could see steady improvement through that first training camp and into the regular season, it’s obvious Walker has been able to fine-tune his body through offseason workouts to be better prepared to do what the Lions expect.

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“When I was out there rehabbing, I was working on stuff we do here, instead of me not even knowing,” Walker explained. “When I was out of free agency, I was new to this, I didn’t even know how to play (in a 4-3 defense).”

Coach Jim Caldwell noted that the improvements have been noticeable.

“I’ve seen maturity and growth within the system, certainly seen maturity and growth that started within the technical side of it, working with (defensive line coach) Kris (Kocurek) with the things that we do up front,” Caldwell said. “Overall, he’s in much better shape, in very, very good condition, and I think he’s just a more powerful man at this point.”

Adding more power should be a scary thought for opposing offensive lineman considering Walker’s go-to move last season was a fairly potent bull rush. Combine that with some added speed off the line and a leaner frame, and Walker could be an impact force up front for the Lions.

Even though the Lions used a second-round draft pick on A’Shawn Robinson, Walker remains a projected starter at defensive tackle, lining up next to Haloti Ngata. And the more Walker can stay on the field, the better it will be for his bank account. He’s set to earn an additional $650,000 based on the percentage of snaps he plays.