... and Eagles don't doubt Walker's worth

July 09, 1992|By Chris Mortensen | Chris Mortensen,The Sporting News

When the Philadelphia Eagles' coaching and scouting staff broke out the film on Herschel Walker's career with the Minnesota Vikings, they saw what everybody else saw. Sometimes, it made them cringe, those moments when Walker would freeze at the line of scrimmage and seemingly take a dive for the turf.

But the more film they watched, the more they believed he was worth signing as a free agent.

"If you watch long enough, there's something very consistent when Herschel is in the game and getting the football regularly," says Joe Woolley, the Eagles' director of player personnel. "The yard markers start moving down the field. He gets the ball and the team moves. It's not always spectacular, but he gets his yards and then he'll pop a big one."

Walker did rush for 825 yards and 10 touchdowns last year, but his 2 1/2 -year stint with the Vikings was a nightmare for the player and the team.

"The chemistry wasn't right," Walker says.

The Eagles don't plan to make Walker the center of their offense, either, unless he earns it. Then again, the only thing they had to invest to get Walker was a two-year contract (at about $1.5 million per year).

But the chemistry factor remains. Just before Walker's signing was completed, Eagles quarterback Randall Cunningham, who is coming back from knee surgery, said he didn't think he was the right back for the Eagles.

Cunningham had pushed for the Eagles to trade for Eric Dickerson, then of the Indianapolis Colts. And when the Los Angeles Raiders acquired Dickerson, Cunningham pushed for the Eagles to acquire the Raiders' Marcus Allen. He cited the Eagles' offensive scheme.

What about that? Walker is known to prefer the I-formation, where the running back lines up deep and directly behind the quarterback and fullback. The Eagles seldom run out of the I.

Eagles coach Rich Kotite knows this. And though he is not going to restructure his offense for Walker, he has told his coaches that they might make some minor adjustments to get the most out of their new back. Those adjustments include setting Walker a little deeper in the backfield so he can make his reads.

But the impact of Walker really does come down to team chemistry. Cunningham prefers to be the center of attention, which is fine with Walker. The problem is, there is no way the Philadelphia media can or will allow Walker to simply do his job without great scrutiny.

The best thing Walker has going for him is Eagles defensive end Reggie White, who served as a mediator between the club and Walker. White wanted Walker badly.

White and Walker also are devout Christians. In Minnesota, Walker was forever a loner. He won't be so alone in Philadelphia.

Whether he is born again as a football player remains to be seen.

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