Lions' Tracy Walker likes what he sees in fellow safeties DeShon Elliott, Kerby Joseph
Allen Park — With a hole in the Detroit Lions’ secondary next to projected starting safety Tracy Walker, general manager Brad Holmes added fifth-year safety DeShon Elliott through free agency and third-round pick Kerby Joseph to the team this offseason.
Joseph, who is listed at 6-foot-1, 203 pounds, is still wet behind the ears when it comes to playing the position. Holmes even noted after he drafted Joseph in April that he is a developmental player with high upside.
On the opposite side of the spectrum is Elliott, a veteran player coming over from the Baltimore Ravens who has been taking the majority of first-team snaps in minicamp this offseason, and appears to be in pole position to secure that starting safety spot opposite Walker.
“I like the way DeShon approaches his work,” Walker said Tuesday. “He approaches each and every day like he wants to get better, and he wants to be great, which is very admiring. As far as us two, we’re out here grinding each and every day and we’re trying to bring the young guys up with us.”
The duo came into the league at the same time, with Walker a third-round selection in 2018 and Elliott going in the sixth round the same year.
Combined, they have 87 games played with 56 starts, giving them a level of experience that is invaluable, according to Walker.
“We (see) the game from a different perspective, and we've been in a lot of NFL games,” he said. “The game from the NFL to college is completely different. It's much faster. It's much more IQ-involved. So, with that being said, experience definitely matters, for sure. We can definitely tell (the younger players) about real-life game situations that we’ve both been a part of.”
Putting that experience to use is more than what the pair can do together on the field. Walker said his time in the league has flown by so far, but head coach Dan Campbell has expressed the desire for players like him to step into leadership roles.
Walker said he’s ready.
“I’m a firm believer in I’ve got to lead by example,” he said. “So, I come in here every day, and then once (the younger guys) see me get here early (and) I’m one of the last people to leave, (it sets the example). When they ask me questions, I’m in tune, I know the answers … I could be sitting up here and telling them ‘Hey, this is what you’ve got to do, this is what you’ve got to do,’ but I can be a hypocrite and not do any of it.
“I try to lead by example and that's the main thing for me, and that's what's so important about these guys, they're so in tune and caught in to what I'm doing, that I have to be a perfectionist and better myself. And that's how I approach it every day, they’re absorbing everything and they're getting better, which is great to see.”
Signs currently point to Elliott being the starter in 2022, given his amount of snaps with the first-team defense this offseason, but with his contract expiring next year, the door could be open for Joseph to step into a bigger role after taking some time to grow behind the scenes.
Regardless of who ends up being the starter this year or next, Walker has been satisfied with what he’s seen from the rookie in his interactions with him since April.
“He’s more of a quiet (person), obviously I’m the loud, clownish guy, but Kerby is a great guy,” Walker said. “He approaches his job each and every day, (and] he’s always ready to work. He always asks questions … He’s very in tune to what’s going on in here.”