Veteran Darrin Walls fits into Lions' secondary

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Darrin Walls

Allen Park – There’s an adjustment whenever an NFL player goes from one team to the next.

But defensive back Darrin Walls, who signed as an unrestricted free agent in March, feels his transition to the Lions has gone well.

“Coming over there’s definitely a lot of different things that we do, however a lot of them are similar as well,” said Walls, a six-year cornerback out of Notre Dame. “It’s always going to be an adjustment coming from a different system with the terminology and different type of techniques and schemes you play, but it’s very easily manageable.

“I feel like I’ve come along pretty good and got caught up pretty fast.”

Walls spent the last four seasons with the New York Jets, playing 13 games last season. Walls was credited with three tackles, three pass defenses and seven special team tackles.

An undrafted free agent, Walls originally signed with Atlanta in 2011. Walls has three interceptions in his career and has started 16 games of the 54 he’s played.

Looking for a veteran presence after the retirement of Rashean Mathis, Walls can provide that sort of influence.

“Darrin is really steady, he’s a true professional,” coach Jim Caldwell said. “He does a great job just in terms of his preparation. He sets a great example for the younger guys because he’s all business.

“He doesn’t demonstrate rah-rah leadership style but does more so by example. In every phase, the way he studies, prepares for meetings, comes to the practice field, the way he gets ready for games, is all a special trait to emulate.”

Having played with the likes of star defensive backs Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie with the Jets, Walls feels he can pass along valuable experience to the younger defensive backs.

“I haven’t been a starter a lot but I feel like I’ve been in the league a long time and (gained) a lot of knowledge from other players like Revis and Cromartie and guys like that,” Walls said. “I feel like I’m older and I can give a different insight from a players’ point of view to the younger guys.”

Teammates have already noticed what Walls can bring to the Lions, both on and off the field.

“He’s the best route reader on our team,” cornerback Darius Slay said. “Really good eyes. He likes to read receivers.  He knows how to read routes.

“He’s a veteran. He’s bonded, he fits good with us. The coaches did a good thing recruiting after Rashean left with good guys and he’s one of them.”

Walls felt an immediate fit with the Lions, a team he sees significant potential because of a promising defensive backfield.

“When I came (for a free agent visit) the coaching staff was very friendly and everyone was very honest with me and what to expect out of me,” Walls said. “I just felt it was a good fit for me, and coming in with a bunch of young guys, I was an older guys who can contribute in the room a little bit.

“I didn’t know too much about the Lions, I was in the AFC, but I feel like a lot of guys like Slay and Glover (Quin) and those guys, I see this secondary could be pretty good.

“And if you have a good secondary, you have a good defense.”