Atlanta Falcons: Vance Walker is unsung hero of the defensive line

Falcons Texans FootballFLOWERY BRANCH – Defensive tackle Vance Walker is one of the unsung heroes of the Falcons defensive line.

The former Georgia Tech standout, who made the team after being drafted in the seventh round of the 2009 draft, was a major contributor while playing 51.9 percent of the defensive snaps during the regular season.

Walker has been ready whenever the Falcons have called. He played 84 percent ( 48 of 57) of the snaps against Tampa Bay on Nov. 25 and 80 percent (39 of 49) against Washington on Oct. 7.

He had a low of 26 percent (15 of 58) of the snaps against Arizona on Nov. 18.

“He’s done a very nice job for us in the rotation,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said on Friday. “I think he’s probably been our most productive defensive tackle in terms of pass rush this year statistically. He’s a very good anchor point. He has a very good understanding of what we are trying to do and he understands his role in the rotation.”

Walker has three sacks, 32 tackles and a forced fumble. He splits time with Corey Peters, Peria Jerry and Jonathan Babineaux.

“(In evaluating) a defensive tackle, you have to really watch the film,” Smith said. “You don’t necessarily look at the stat sheet. They do a lot of dirty work in terms of taking on multiple blockers on most plays.”

Walker is ready to contribute in the playoffs.

“It’s very exciting,” Walker said. “For the most part, we’ve got to have a lot of focus. Being here for the last three years and playing in the past two playoffs games, unfortunately, we didn’t make it to where we wanted to be. We’ve learned a lot from that and it’s going to take great focus. It’s definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

While Walker has had a strong campaign, he believes he can contribute more.

“I’m not content with anything,” said Walker, who started eight games this season. “But at the same time I want to be better than what I was last year and at the end of the day, I want to help the team win a championship and win that ring.”

He was used much more sparingly under former defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder. He had just two starts before this season and his previous high for tackles was 18 in 2011.

“Now, is not really the time to look back on my accomplishments,” Walker said. “We are still playing. As long as I can keep playing and helping out my team, that’s the best thing that I can do.”

He doesn’t mind doing the interior dirty work.

“There are a lot of plays like that, whether if it’s myself, Corey, Babs or Peria; where we get in the face of the quarterback or we hit him right before he throws,” Walker said. “Sometimes it leads to an interception or a bad pass. A lot of those things are effective.”

Babineaux, who has 3.5 sacks, credits Walker for being a disruptive force inside.

“Vance has been doing pretty good,” Babineaux said. “He’s coming along from last year to this year. That’s what we needed. We needed a lot more from him. . . he has grown a lot since last year.”

It’s usually hard to get sacks from the defensive tackle position, but Walker would like to have more.

“We like to have much better sack numbers, but all we can do is keep working hard and just strive for excellence,” Walker said. “It’s something that we’ve got to keep working on. For the most part, we are affecting the quarterback, but we just have to get him down.”

Walker’s strategy in the trenches is simple.

“As far as defensive linemen, it’s all about being physical,” Walker said. “We have to play stronger than the other guy. That’s pretty much the bare bones of it since Pee Wee (football). We just got to line up and beat the other guy.”

Walker is set to become an unrestricted free agent after the season and would like to return to the Falcons.

“I’ve definitely played the hand that I was dealt,” Walker said. “I’ve done the best that I could have with what I was given. I have no regrets about it. I’m happy to be here in Atlanta. Everything that God has put forth for me has worked out. I’m not taking anything for granted, first and foremost is the Super Bowl ring.”


Dirk Koetter to stay with the Falcons

Smith to ramp up bye-week practices

Smith expects Abraham, Robinson to be ready for playoff game

Falcons’ run defense to be tested in divisional playoff game

Falcons to open playoffs at 1 p.m., Sunday Jan. 13th


Finishing regular season ‘the right way’

Ryan, Gonzalez, Jones voted to Pro Bowl

Matt Ryan named NFC offensive player of week

Matt Ryan Q-and-A

Safety William Moore to miss fourth straight game

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

42 comments Add your comment


January 4th, 2013
4:08 pm

hehad BVG disease but Dr Nolan treated it and it went away


January 4th, 2013
4:27 pm

Thank you GT


January 4th, 2013
4:28 pm

Vance is a beast and in my opinion on the performance from our other DTs he should be starting every game beside babs and playing the majority of the snaps.

Bobby Butler

January 4th, 2013
4:33 pm

I remember Vance, Michael Johnson (Bengals), Darryl Richard (formally of Patriots) and Derrick Morgan (Titans) a few years ago manning the D-line for Tech. Good times! I hope he stays with the Falcons for many more years and wins and ring this year.


January 4th, 2013
4:52 pm

Walker and McClain, 2 warriors who have stepped up………………!!!



January 4th, 2013
4:59 pm

You ever notice how Buck Belue will never say his name when mentioning the defensive line. He has even mentioned Travion Robertson.

what a homer.


January 4th, 2013
5:49 pm

Look, our weakest link on defense is the line……and our weakest link on offense is our run blocking. None of that is going to change going into the playoffs. To help the defensive line you can blitz more. To help the run blocking you can pass more! That’s what we will do. How effective that becomes is anybody’s guess. If we pass more then we have to pick up blitzes and if we blitz more then we have to make quick contact with the quarterback our secondary guys are going to get burned for long pass plays. I still like our chances even without Abraham. Our offense will be up to the task of carrying our defense, at least in our first playoff game.


January 4th, 2013
5:54 pm

DLed, where ya been? Glad to see you back in the saddle!!

Jacket Man

January 4th, 2013
6:04 pm

Vance was drafted the same year as 1st Round pick Peria Jerry, and has out played him for a lot less money:

Represents GA Tech well. Never in trouble, exceeds expectations, hard working, respectful…I think he’s actually outplayed their 1st Round pick from that year Peria Jerry. Go figure…

Perry; 34 total games; 26 solo tackles; 8 assists; 2 sacks; 2 passes defended; 1 forced fumble; 1 fumble recovered

Walker; 79 games played; 53 solo tackles; 26 assists; 5 sacks; 2 passes defended; 2 forced fumbles; 1 fumble recovered

Jacket Man

January 4th, 2013
6:05 pm

In case you couldn’t tell I found the states on another site :)

Jacket Man

January 4th, 2013
6:06 pm

Delbert D.

January 4th, 2013
6:15 pm

Good show, Mr. Walker. Need to keep it up. Babineaux may be tasked with more time at DE with Abraham gimpy.

Tech Fan Since 1950

January 4th, 2013
7:11 pm

Orlando, it has taken you and the AJC forever to finally recognized the “big jam” in the Falcons defensive line—-that be Vance Walker. Every time I see #99 he seems to be taking on two or three offensive linemen and that is allowing the linebackers, defensive ends and secondary to make more tackles. I am glad you are recognizing Vance’s accomplishments. Thanks for your efforts and Go Falcons!


January 4th, 2013
7:56 pm

Let’s hope Vance Walker’s play rubs off on P. Jerry, maybe they’ll sign Vance after the season to a new contract.


January 4th, 2013
8:14 pm


What happened to Lawrence Sidbury??? He had 3.5 sacks in limited playing time last year. I have never understood why he has not gotten more time with the fact that we need rushers. I thought he might get his chance with Nolan, but he has actually been inactive for quite a few games.

He was drafted by TD, right. So what is the problem?????????????

Jeff Turner

January 4th, 2013
8:26 pm

Vance was the unsung hero on a great GT defensive line that had Micheal Johnson and Derrick Morgan. Way to continue your success young man!


January 4th, 2013
8:39 pm

everybody thought Ziggy Hood was the best D lineman available when TD picked P Jerry, the Steelers think Jerry was a perfect choice for ATL

yellow Jacket for life

January 5th, 2013
1:20 am

Well it is about time!!!!! I remenber the win aganist Ga bull dogs (oops clam down dogs) Vance Walker, Micheal Johnson,Derrich Morgan and Darryl Richard What a great win .It is a pleasure to see Vance excel in the NFL give credit where credit is do GO FLACONS!!!!!!

[...] Atlanta Falcons This entry was posted in Atlanta Falcons and tagged Atlanta, defensive, Falcons, hero, line, unsung, Vance, Walker. Bookmark the permalink. ← AP Source: Browns close to deal with Kelly (The Associated Press) [...]


January 5th, 2013
2:14 am

Watch the 4th down run against the Giants. Vance didn’t take on step backwards, and that’s what let Dent make the stop. Sometimes it’s not what you cause, it’s what you don’t allow.


January 5th, 2013
3:54 am

The three losses the Falcons got, were by teams under .500, I think they only played maybe three teams with a winning record this season. Now they will play a team that’s decent in their game next weekend. They want to get respect for the record this year…..this will be the time to earn it. Falcon fans are not content to just make it to playoffs, and call it a day after one and done. It seems all Atlanta sport teams owner are though. If they cant get it done this year, Sell em!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Polk County Falcon

January 5th, 2013
4:52 am

Great playing on Walker’s part. DOL — Looks like you’re going to have to give us a report on Sid. Everybody keeps asking. Love your columns, keep up the good work.


January 5th, 2013
6:52 am

To everyone, everywhere who constantly asks about Sidbury. Simply, he’s a bust!

This shy he never takes a snap and has been mostly of the active roster…benthis war TWO YEARS now.

Got it? GOT IT?

Now stop asking until you see him again which is most likley never.



January 5th, 2013
6:54 am

Edit: This is why he never takes a snap and has been mostly off the active roster…been this way now for TWO YEARS!


January 5th, 2013
8:28 am

A bust got more sacks than the Bearman with less playing time last year???? Also, I will ask what I please!


January 5th, 2013
8:43 am

SIdbury’s entire 2012 season stats: 1 tackle; 1 assist; 0 in all other categories.

Yeh, keep asking Goober!

Loyal Falcon

January 5th, 2013
10:23 am




January 5th, 2013
10:42 am


D. Orlando Ledbetter

January 5th, 2013
11:15 am

Esquire – Been on IR. Ruptured left quad. Probable for playoffs.

The Real Falcon

January 5th, 2013
12:34 pm

Another one of those great GT guys making a difference. A 7th rounder,I believe.

Vu Ḉa Avant

January 5th, 2013
2:43 pm

Vance Walker is another falcan’t player that will retire without tasting an NFL playoff game victory.


January 5th, 2013
3:39 pm

Our run defense has been pretty solid all year. Babs is a beast and Walker and Jerry truly are unsung heroes. The stats vs Tampa Bay for example show that we got “gashed” but aside from one long run we contained their run game pretty nicely. I feel confident in the Dline even if we do face Peterson and the Vikings … we tend to play well vs big time running backs. Praying for a Redskins victory, we can dominate those guys. The Seahawks are a little scary but they are flashy. Kind of like us in 2008, going on the road. WIN IN THE 13TH!!!!!!!!!


January 5th, 2013
10:26 pm

“Our run defense has been pretty solid all year.”

….what, are you Stevie Wonder or just blind??? It’s been our pass defense that’s been solid all year….our run defense has left a lot to be desired!


January 6th, 2013
8:26 am

Amazyn…………since Nolan open up all positions to the’best players play’ Sidbury sees little or no time. If you don’ practie well, you don’t play in his system.


January 6th, 2013
8:29 am

okeetee…….to anwer your question, if you are Stevie Wonder, you are blind.

Elvis is Alive

January 6th, 2013
10:35 am

From a sports writer;
“That leaves just Ryan and Rodgers. Green Bay beat Atlanta en route to a Super Bowl title then beat up the Falcons last year in Atlanta. Rodgers has lit up the Falcons and is unstoppable on turf.
No Packers fans fear the Falcons, nor should they.
Atlanta is better than they were as a 1 seed in 2010, but not by much.
Green Bay knows they can win there and Atlanta’s defense knows they can’t hope to slow down Rodgers”.

I hope the the Falcons save this post for the bulletin board!
Should we win in our next game (Rise Up) and Green Bay becomes our second week opponent, i’d like to see this quote plastered on the chest of their QB when he is gettng up off the ground from being sacked and throwing a Pic-6.
Face one except the Fans believe in this team.
You/ve proven to me u can play smashmouth football..
It’s Now or Next year !!
Rise Up.angry Birds..Rise Up..

Whopper Dawg

January 6th, 2013
12:07 pm

Walker > Jerry,Peters.


January 6th, 2013
6:45 pm

resign v walker and let p jerry go….. plan and simple

[...] when it comes to Dave Caldwell. Caldwell has largely avoided the spotlight in Atl more… Atlanta Falcons: Vance Walker is unsung hero of the defensive line – 01/04/2013 FLOWERY BRANCH – Defensive tackle Vance Walker is one of the [...]

[...] when it comes to Dave Caldwell. Caldwell has largely avoided the spotlight in Atl more… Atlanta Falcons: Vance Walker is unsung hero of the defensive line – 01/04/2013 FLOWERY BRANCH – Defensive tackle Vance Walker is one of the [...]


January 7th, 2013
9:13 am

Walker and Jerry should have been swapping paychecks based on productivity. That will be corrected in the off season.

[...] D. Orlando Ledbetter FLOWERY BRANCH – Defensive tackle Vance Walker is one of the unsung heroes of the Falcons [...]