Walker Won't Have Starting Job Handed Back To Him

September 4 - Is Tampa Bay right tackle Kenyatta Walker a bust? Some of his critics are starting to say he is, but the Bucs' 2001 first-round draft pick said he is eager to prove those critics wrong. Meanwhile, Bucs head coach Jon Gruden said Walker had to earn his starting job back from RT Cornell Green.

When the Buccaneers drafted Kenyatta Walker out of the University of Florida last year, they handed him the starting left tackle position. And in training camp this season, Walker was handed the starting right tackle job. But Walker struggled in both situations, which led to his demotion earlier this week.

Walker is still practicing with the second-team offense while Cornell Green practices as the team's starting right tackle.

While Walker is trying to adjust to life on the bench, he admitted he made too many mistakes to remain the starter during preseason.

"You don't want to go into what you call a quicksand," said Walker. "Everybody makes mistakes in a game. But you can't make two or three mistakes in a game. Everybody makes mistakes, but it's all about who makes the least amount of mistakes."

Walker was penalized three times against the Houston Texans last Friday night, which ultimately led him to the bench. But Walker said that performance wasn't the worst one he's had in the pros.

"That wasn't quicksand," Walker said of his poor performance against Houston in the preseason. "Quicksand was Pittsburgh."

But the team hasn't given up on its 2001 first-round draft pick. They're just waiting for him to come around and while they wait, Green will start.

"Right now we're starting Cornell Green at right tackle," said Gruden. "We're going to continue to work with Kenyatta. Nobody is giving up on him. We just want to make sure he gets himself ready to play the right way and and when he does, he'll play. But at this time, Cornell Green gives us the best chance to win."

He's working to get back into the starting rotation, but Bucs head coach Jon Gruden said Walker will have to earn it.

"He's got to really pick it up," Gruden said Walker's play. "He's got to really pick it up out here tomorrow and he's got to be mistake-free. But at the same time, Cornell Green has to let up. Cornell Green is not going to back down now. He's got to beat Cornell Green out. Although he's a bit obscure in terms of the NFL circles, Cornell Green is a guy that's been waiting and anxious to show he can play in the NFL."

Walker struggled to get along with his offensive teammates last season, but he said they've been more supportive this year.

"We got closer as a group toward the end of last year, but this group we have here now is closer now than we were last year," Walker said of the offensive line.

Walker is eager to earn a spot back in the starting rotation, but he also wants to silence the critics that are already calling him a bust.

"I don't want to be a bust," said Walker. "I don't want to go down the road of people saying I have all the talent, but. I've got out there and play."

If Walker wants to shake that label, he'll have to crack the starting line up rather quickly.


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