Tennessee Titans: Delanie Walker…the real MVP


All week we’ve talked about the Tennessee Titans’ highly touted rookie class, and their potential clash with the retuning starters…especially on offense.

A “Clash of the Titans” if you will?

Ok…quickly digressing.

Several key players from last year’s offense either said…or was caught doing…something to suggest that Tennessee may have made a mistake by selecting qb Marcus Mariota. Most notably Zach Mettenberger, Taylor Lewan, Kendall Wright, and Justin Hunter.

This is not a shocking development, given the bevy of youth and inexperience on offense. Of the players I just mentioned, Wright is the oldest…and he’s just now entering his fourth season.

While relatively young, the Titans do have veteran players on offense. And one in particular has the skins on the wall to nip a locker room divide in the bud. In fact, he’s tailor made to help Tennessee with their transition.

Tight end Delanie Walker.

Walker was the unquestioned MVP on offense last year. But that was on the field. If the Mariota era has any chance of getting off to a good start, then Walker will have to be the MVP on…and off the field.

Judging from his offseason comments, not only is he up for the challenge, but eerily enough he may have seen this coming.

A month before the draft, Paul Kuharsky of ESPN reported that Walker intended to be more of a vocal leader in Tennessee this season. A quote from the report.

“I’m going to put it on my back this year, I feel like I’ve got to step up and be a better leader,”

Walker continued…

“I wasn’t a vocal leader, I think I was the type of leader that showed on the field, I performed at a high level. But I think this year I need to speak up more, my voice needs to be heard within the locker room.”

The man must be psychic.

With Mariota on board now, the Titans need a veteran vocal leader on offense more than ever. And to his credit, he backed up his pre-draft vow not long after.

While making an appearance on Nashville sports talk radio, the Midday 180 show (also co-hosed by Kuharsky, Titans beat writer), Walker chimed in on Mariota’s pending arrival. And maybe even sent a not so subtle message to his veteran colleagues.

“You better adjust or you won’t be in the locker room,”

He went on to add….

“That’s just how it works. This is a business. At the end of he day, Zach [Mettenberger] is our friend, we hang out with him, but it comes down to who’s going to help us win the game, who’s going to be the better quarterback for us this year …

Everyone knows if you’re No. 1 or No. 2, you’re probably going to play, that’s just how it works.”

But when pressed on whether or not Mariota’s presence would cause a locker room divide, Walker fired back with a very telling answer.

“It might, but he did get drafted in the first round, second overall. Stuff like that [does] happen. Where the other player was probably better, but we’re giving this player a lot of money so he’s got to play. He’s got to tell us [with his play] like, look, he can’t do it, we’ve got to put in Zach.”

And why was this answer so telling? Because he is speaking from experience.

Walker was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the sixth round of the 2006 draft. They also drafted fellow tight end Vernon Davis in the first round that year.

You guessed it, Davis got the money, the notoriety, and most importantly….the keys to the starting job. Walker put his nose to the grind and earned a contract extension two years later, before ultimately cashing in via free agency with Tennessee.

And you guessed it, now he has the money, the notoriety, and most importantly……

Walker is the perfect mentor to Mettenberger, who is also a former sixth round pick having to wait his turn. He has the cache, the on field production, and the attitude to keep his new young teammates in line and focused on the same goal.

If Tennessee’s offense turns around this season then Mariota, of course, will get the credit. But behind the scenes, Walker would have been the MVP.

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