Walker surgery surprises Raiders

The first day of the Raiders mandatory mini-camp brought few surprises but the news that wide receiver Javon Walker had recently undergone knee surgery was definitely one of them. Find out about Walker's situation, what head coach Tom Cable thinks and what SBI's Michael Wagaman thinks of it in his latest update.

While most of the attention at the Raiders mini-camp Friday was centered around the team's newest draft class, news that veteran wide receiver Javon Walker had undergone knee surgery within the past few weeks was significant given Walker's history of knee problems.

That he had the surgery without telling the Raiders, however, was a stunning revelation.

"We just found out about it," head coach Tom Cable said. "We just found out about it. It was a few weeks back. It's kind of a follow-up to what he went through last year, I guess, from the initial ACL injury."

Walker missed eight games in 2008 and suffered a season-ending left ankle injury against Carolina on Nov. 9 which later required surgery.

While the Raiders were fully aware of that procedure, team officials were apparently kept in the dark regarding Walker's knee surgery. The veteran receiver underwent ACL surgery on his right knee while with Denver in 2005 and had another operation on the knee in '07, the primary reasons the Broncos and then-head coach Mike Shanahan decided to part ways with Walker.

After signing a $55 million deal with Oakland that included an $11 million bonus, Walker's stay with the Raiders got off to a bizarre start when he was beaten and left unconscious on a Las Vegas side street. He later approached the Raiders about retiring and offered to return his signing bonus money, only to be talked out of it by owner Al Davis.

He played in eight games but made just 15 catches for 196 yards and one touchdown.

Walker was at practice Friday for the start of the three-day mini-camp but spent most of the day as an observer.

Asked if it was uncommon for an athlete to have surgery without the team knowing, Cable played it diplomatically.

"Yeah it is a little bit uncommon but we're aware of it now," Cable said. "And it was probably the right thing to do and get it cleaned up."

Wagaman's take: There were already red flags going up when Walker wasn't taking part in the OTAs and now we know why. It's not the surgery that is the issue, though it has to be a major concern considering how many problems he's had with the knee. That Walker kept the surgery a secret and didn't let the Raiders in on it, though, is serious. It could also be his ticket out of town. Walker allegedly restructured his deal in the offseason with the Raiders and waived a $5 million roster bonus he was due this year but in exchange he received guaranteed base salaries for this season and 2010. But because he didn't notify team officials about his offseason surgery, Walker may be in violation of his contract. If so, Oakland would be free to cut ties with him, something the Raiders, Al Davis and Cable all need to give a serious thought to. Walker is a likeable guy, maybe one of the most approachable wide receivers in the game from a personality standpoint. But injuries have robbed him of his speed and his game is now ordinary at best. Oakland grabbed a pair of wide receivers in the draft and have a few other youngsters on the roster. The time is ripe to get rid of Walker and let the other kids get the playing time. They're the ones who are going to carry the franchise into the future so the Raiders might as well begin the process now.


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