Walker will be filling in for quarterback Deshaun Watson, who will miss his second consecutive game after suffering a bruised rotator cuff in his throwing shoulder against the Tennessee Titans in Week 3.
The move comes with little surprise given that Watson was not able to practice all week, but announcing it today - as opposed to Sunday morning - will at least calm the nerves of fans who were upset that Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who took the start in Cleveland’s last game, was not notified sooner that he would be tasked with filling his role as QB2, which is to be ready when called upon.
With that particular business behind everyone, attention now turns to Walker, who will be making his first NFL start in 11 months. When he was last seen on the field, Walker finished 10-of-16 for 108 yards, no touchdowns but just as importantly no interceptions, in leading the Carolina Panthers past the Atlanta Falcons.
Walker was inactive the following two weeks, did not play in the final five games of the season, and then signed with the Chicago Bears as a free agent on a two-year contract. The Bears released Walker at the end of training camp, the Browns signed him to their practice squad shortly after, and now he will be lining up under center on Sunday as the Browns look to get something positive going after their demoralizing loss to the Ravens.
Even though he has limited experience as a starter, Walker did make five starts last season with the Panthers and is looking to build off that on Sunday (quotes via a team-provided transcript):
“Last year was huge. Just me getting the opportunity to go out there and play five games and get those games under my belt. It felt good just to see guys rally around me and just to feel the energy and excitement of the guys around me. I go out there and play for myself. I go out there and play for every one of these guys in this room, in this building. That’s all that matters at the end of the day, taking care of business on Sunday and going out there and playing as a team.”
Walker also has a clear understanding of the role a backup quarterback plays on the team, which is you need to be ready at a moment’s notice:
“For me, I prepare each week like I am the backup. That’s how I’ve always been. That’s how I always approached going into these games on Sundays, whether I’m one, two, or three. For me, it’s just always go out there prepared like I’m going to play on Sunday. Because you just never know what happens. Somebody can wake up sick on Sunday morning, and they can’t go. So for me, it’s just always be ready.”
The Browns have been in this situation before where injuries have forced them to go deep into their depth chart to find a quarterback for gameday. More often than not it hasn’t gone well.
There is always the possibility that Walker will surprise everyone on Sunday and do enough to help the Browns upset the 49ers.
But even if things go sour for Walker and the Browns, it sounds like no one can claim it will be that Walker was not prepared for the game.
How confident are you about P.J. Walker at quarterback on Sunday?