MEET THE ROOKIES: CB Darrin Walls

 

Pittsburgh wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin, right, makes a catch for a first down over Notre Dame cornerback Darrin Walls in the second half of an NCAA college football game in Pittsburgh, on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2009. Pittsburgh won 27-22. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Pittsburgh wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin, right, makes a catch for a first down over Notre Dame cornerback Darrin Walls in the second half of an NCAA college football game in Pittsburgh, on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2009. Pittsburgh won 27-22. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

 

FLOWERY BRANCH – We know there are two games left in the exhibition season, but I think it is safe to award cornerback Darrin Walls the MVP of the undrafted rookie free agent class.

Christopher Owens, who’s in a battle at nickel back, suffered a hamstring injury Tuesday and did not practice Wednesday.

With Dunta Robinson (hamstring) not expected to play, Walls, from Notre Dame, will move up to the third cornerback spot if Owens can’t play against the Steelers.

Walls, a native of Pittsburgh, grew up a Steelers fan. I didn’t ask him, but he probably still has a Terrible Towel somewhere back at his parents’ house.

“To play against a team I watched growing up makes it more special,” Walls said. “It’s not just another game, but it’s a chance for me to go out there and try to make the team.”

Falcons coach Mike Smith has been raving about Walls, who’s 6-foot, 190 pounds, since he made a couple of plays in punt coverage against Miami.

“He’s caught our attention,” Smith said. “He’s earned an opportunity to get some playing time.”

On Wednesday, while playing with the first-team nickel defense, Walls looked fluid and very comfortable in coverage. He batted down his share of passes.

Pittsburgh is not normally a recruiting hotspot for Notre Dame.

“I was being recruited by a couple of different schools and Notre Dame was the best fit for me,” Walls said. “Coach [Charlie] Weis and his staff did a good job of recruiting me and I felt real comfortable there.”

Walls picked Notre Dame over Florida and Penn State. He was a USA Today All-American pick as a cornerback-running back out of Woodland Hills High.

Walls doesn’t plan to rest on his solid play.

“I’ve made some strides,” Walls said. “I’m getting better, but I also know that there is a lot that I need to improve on and I’m still working on those things.”

After a strong career for the Fighting Irish, Walls was hoping to get drafted.

“I think coming out of college everybody wants to be drafted,” Walls said. “It was a bit of a disappointment, but I think I use that as motivation here at the next level. I just tried to see and look at the teams that were interested in me and tried to pick the best situation. I visited here, met the staff and felt real comfortable with the staff and the players.”

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

Get instant updates on Twitter at AJCFalcons and you can join the Facebook Fan page at AJC Falcons.

53 comments Add your comment

Big Ray

August 25th, 2011
5:08 am

Hope he makes the team. Kid can ball…and it seems we can’t quite count on Owens just yet. He was injured last year as well.

Geez…Dunta and Chris with hamstring issues. Damn lockout! Causing all sorts of injury problems!

Better hang onto Walls. And grab a veteran safety for backup while we’re at it.

Marcus

August 25th, 2011
5:52 am

yeah …. we need quality depth. Things will be interesting come cut day.

Alex Sarson

August 25th, 2011
5:52 am

I like the kid, I want him in the team. I think he’s a rough gem. With the likes of Dominique as well we can have more talented and unexpected plays back there. Nobody expected Grimes did they?

Greg

August 25th, 2011
6:37 am

What’s up with all these pulled hamstrings? An exercise science therapist told me years ago that there is NO reason for an athlete to get one. If he does get one, he’s either doing excessive or unbalanced weight-training, or is insufficiently warmed up. D-Led, how about getting a Falcons trainer to comment on this?

just sayin'

August 25th, 2011
6:37 am

the lockout didn’t cause the injury probs…at least these….coming into camp in better shape could have helped these muscle and conditioning issues…

nes

August 25th, 2011
7:22 am

Dunte had the same problem last pre-season! Doesn’t anyone remember? Dunte must not have worked out enough this off season on conditioning and stretching his hamstrings since it is a recurring problem for him. I doubt very seriously he plays all 16 games this year. Each year with hamstring injuries, they get a little more harder to rehab and as a result of Dunte not working on this issue with more dedication he won’t be practicing all week and then play on game day, just like last year. Sooner or later that will make his team mates a little resentful, they will be busting their butts in practice while Dunte is not practicing and playing on game day. Just my honest opinion!

nes

August 25th, 2011
7:25 am

Sorry about incorrectly spelling Dunta in above blog!

Infamous

August 25th, 2011
7:52 am

Was this the best picture available?

Good luck kid.

FAlcons24

August 25th, 2011
7:57 am

I like this kid and I do believe that he will be something special in our scheme. He is a true baller and nice cover skills. In the game against Miami, I watched him blanket his man in coverage, leading to a Rafael Bush interception. He is truly a keeper. I hoep Dunta get healthy and as far as Chris Owens, the jury is still out on him. I don’t like his cover skills. GO FALCONS!

FAlcons24

August 25th, 2011
8:09 am

Sorry, I mispelled hope.

FAlcons24

August 25th, 2011
8:20 am

I give up, because I misspelled hope and turned around and did the same with misspelled. Still a good day.

SavannahFalconsFan

August 25th, 2011
8:30 am

Yeah DOL, I think if you are featuring a player, you should show a picture of him making a play, not getting beat to the ball by a WR. This is not good PR for Walls!

Birdman Dave

August 25th, 2011
8:40 am

I’m not saying that the coaching staff would be deceitful! (wait for the but)but is it possible that they don’t want to let our REAL defensive schemes and/or players(Dunta)videoed to use against us in regular season? Just saying! GO FALCONS!!!!

mountain_jim

August 25th, 2011
8:45 am

Dunta is a master at avoiding work in the offseason and avoiding playing and practicing in the preseason.

Flo=Ri-Duh

August 25th, 2011
9:11 am

Notr
Dame always gets the HYPE from ESPN…. their day has come and gone and they are history.

David

August 25th, 2011
9:15 am

Ger reed of Dunta and get someone that can play and want’s to play. And please no midget.

3 picks

August 25th, 2011
9:18 am

Good Job DOL. This is the kind if stuff we want know.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

August 25th, 2011
9:22 am

SavannahFalconsFan — Had to follow those darn copyright rules. Maybe he’ll make some plays in the game and we’ll get some AP photots from Pitt on Saturday.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

August 25th, 2011
9:23 am

FALcons24 — Hang in there. This is a football blog. Not the Spelling Bee!

Buzzfan®

August 25th, 2011
9:24 am

Walls is yet another from Woodland Hills HS in the Pittsburbs. WH Head Coach (and Ga Tech letterman) George Novak keeps turning out D1…and NFL…talent, going all the way back to Jason Taylor. Steve Breaston, Ryan Mundy, Lousaka Polite, Rob Grankowski, Shawntae Spencer….SIX WH alums in the NFL right now.

http://blogs.sites.post-gazette.com/index.php/sports/varsity-blog/21823-woodland-hills-has-most-players-in-nfl

D. Orlando Ledbetter

August 25th, 2011
9:25 am

Infamous — Um, yes. BPA. Best Picture Available — copyright rules. In his draft bio, they wrote that he struggled against Baldwin in this game. Not sure why he didn’t get drafted. He runs a 4.43. That’s plenty fast. Have some more work to do on this kid.

B-man

August 25th, 2011
9:26 am

Get rid of Dunta? Seriously? Take a look at the stats from last year. He wasn’t Revis but he was no slouch either. He didnt’ have tons of picks but that was because most of the throws were going at Grimes and luckily Grimes stepped up.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

August 25th, 2011
9:26 am

Buzzfan — Thanks for sharing!!!

B-man

August 25th, 2011
9:28 am

and more on Dunta….he looked like the only player who DID want to play against the eagles when he knocked D. Jackson (and himselft) out. That didn’t look like a hit from a guy who doesn’t want to play.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

August 25th, 2011
9:30 am

Greg — In the good old days, they’d let you talk to the trainer. We used to walk in training room and get the full injury report. Now days, things have changed. We’re at the mercy team which is guarded about injury info. There have been only two hamstrings and one groin, though.

just sayin'

August 25th, 2011
9:38 am

the hit on jackson was a cheap shot…he deserved more…bad publicity… than he got…

D man

August 25th, 2011
9:56 am

DOL- thanks for this article. I had not heard of Walls before now. I will have something to watch for against the Steelers besides watching the first stringers. Hope he does well and makes the team. Good story…

gritzblitz

August 25th, 2011
10:00 am

no the shot on jackson was clean… deserved less of a fine… than he got…

D man

August 25th, 2011
10:01 am

Am I a bad person for watching the preseason games on the NFL network and wanting the starters on both teams to hurt each other so they will be weaker when they face the Falcons? ;)

PMC

August 25th, 2011
10:02 am

whatever, the hit on Jackson was not a cheap shot. Jackson is freaking tiny. Blame the coach for sending him over the middle if he doesn’t want him to get hurt. Dunta did his job. Jackson is about 165lbs. Dunta was trying to break up a pass and he did. He led with his shoulder not his head, it was a violent collision. It’s football. He got fined, because the league wants it’s star players to remain on the field. Have no problem with Dunta and I have no problem with the league trying to police itself so no one dies, but cheap shot? You’re crazy. There was nothing cheap about it in the least. Jackson new what was coming, he fought physics and lost.

Geez, when will you people start realizing this is a fine football team?

Don't Feed Iggles Trolls (It isn't 1960 Anymore)

August 25th, 2011
10:09 am

A guy like Walls could be the reason management hasn’t pulled the trigger on bringing in a veteran DB. I believe in the youth movement as well and would like to see one of these youngsters earn their spot on the team and produce.

SAMUEL

August 25th, 2011
10:26 am

Dunta Robinson had the same problem last year. He missed a lot of practice and preseason games. The fans expect great things from him this season. We want him to earn that big contract. Especially when Grimes played better and for a lot less money. Some of these defensive backs are getting a chance of a life time. Let’s hope they can cease the moment. Hence if you can’t, I don’t want to hear you whine because you didn’t make the team…

B-man

August 25th, 2011
10:27 am

Well said PMC…if Dunta had tried to let up jackson might have gotten loose and all these haters would be pointing to how soft he is. Its a no win situation for the defensive player.

SPS

August 25th, 2011
11:14 am

Don’t Feed: TD is waiting because he knows he can get a veteran CB cheap after the roster cuts start. Getting one now involves a trade and giving up assets.

mark

August 25th, 2011
11:47 am

its a joke robinson sign big money and always is injured i think this time dimitroff fail sorry to accept it but its true, we should go out there and trade for asante or drc those guys know how to play, its just make me sick to hear always the same story about or cb only grimes is the good one here, i see it again rodgers destorying or secondary like pee wee football

mark

August 25th, 2011
11:51 am

the ugly truth is robinson has durability problems and thomas dimitroff went wrong on that sign we should have waited 1 more year to get nahmdi

zorro

August 25th, 2011
11:53 am

Walls,Frank and Brush will be in our secondary on sundays,with that said I think they should keep Edward out of this game. But I think Matt Ryan should run just to keep their LBs honest,this will make other lanes open up so he can pass more. thats what Rodger’s did to off set our defense and you saw the outcome of that game. Now with the addition of another tight end and HD is health again we will have plenty of explosive plays.

Wet Willie...keep on smiling

August 25th, 2011
11:57 am

The play at QB will determine just how far the Birds can go. This year is do or die for the current QB. The table is set with a strong team on both sides of the ball. He will either choke and puke or take it to a higher level. I have no clue which way he goes but there is no more excuses for him.

Corey O'Shaughnessy

August 25th, 2011
12:14 pm

Really? What a terrible choice for a picture about a guy you’re writing a complimentary piece about. D Walls is all class and a good football player – I hope he makes an impact for the Falcons this year. Did I mention what a terrible choice of pictures that is? The caption too… wow.

good old joe

August 25th, 2011
12:46 pm

I DONT LIKE KICKING OFF FROM THE 35 YRD LINE IT TAKES AWAY TO MUCH OF THE GAME .
WE TAKE SOMETHING THAT IS PERFECT LIKE IT IS ,AN JUST UP AN CHANGE IT ‘WHY ‘

PMC

August 25th, 2011
1:00 pm

I guess it’s going to be a great year then, because Matt Ryan threw 28 TD’s last year and his choices of weapons improved.

QB/DB

August 25th, 2011
1:05 pm

The Falcons can’t afford to mess around! Not with Philly and New Orleans focused on winning it all and Green Bay trying to repeat. TD must go get a vet. safety plus keep Walls. It has to be done! Quality depth is so important now with players getting injured like they do. The Falcons are 90% there but 90 won’t do, they must pull all stops out this year!!!

Yeahsure

August 25th, 2011
1:42 pm

Everyone complaining that TD has not grabbed a vet CB yet is crazy. If Giants went out and got Brian Williams (just had surgery, 1 year older, could not tackle Drew Brees), then the pool of players available right now must not be that good. TD is waiting for more cuts. If no one better is cut, we will have to live with Owens and Walls.

Bdubu712

August 25th, 2011
1:42 pm

@QB/DB – That’s a great thought, but as I understand it, the team is pretty close against their cap and may not have the room to pay a veteran safety or corner. DOL – where are the Falcons in relation to the salary cap?

ROD

August 25th, 2011
1:43 pm

CUT C OWENS AND RETIRER THE NUMBER 21 EVEN IF HE HAD ANOTHER NUMBER CUT HIM PLEASE,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

David

August 25th, 2011
1:57 pm

Well said Mark

Time for a championship

August 25th, 2011
2:15 pm

I think our young secondary has the potential to be good. Maybe another vereran at safety would be nice. We will find quickly find out how good we are when we play passing teams like the Eagles, Packers, Colts, Texans and Saints twice.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

August 25th, 2011
3:37 pm

Bdubu712 — They are pretty close. I won’t pull their numbers until the final cuts.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

August 25th, 2011
3:39 pm

Corey — It’s not about the pictures here. He didn’t play well vs. Pitt though.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

August 25th, 2011
3:41 pm

D man — Thanks for the nice note. He’s been fun to watch at practice too. Coming from Notre Dame (even though they’ve watered down their schedule to get some Ws) the games shouldn’t be too big for him.