JACKSONVILLE – He's waiting for Sunday.
That's true of most Jaguars players, particularly rookies – and it's darned sure true of outside linebacker Travon Walker, a physical player who has impressed since joining the Jaguars and who now is eager to hit professionally for the first time.
Sunday is 2022 Training Camp's first padded practice.
And that makes it a big day for the No. 1 overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft.
"I'm really ready to get into pads now because I've been out of pads so long, since the national championship," Walker, who played collegiately for 2022 national champion Georgia. "To just finally really strike somebody and be as physical as I can … I'm ready to get back to that."
Walker since being selected No. 1 overall in late April has impressed coaches and teammates with his approach, knowledge of the game, strength and size.
"We like him more now because we know the person now," defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell said. "We know the player, we see the player on film. The person, his work ethic, what he talks about off the field, that's what we like about him.
"We just can't wait to get him going more, get him in the pads and see him progress."
Teammates have been impressed, too, with inside linebacker Foye Oluokun – who signed with the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent in March -- calling Walker "eager to learn" and "naturally gifted."
"If he keeps a high motor, the sky's the limit for him," said Oluokun, who led the NFL in tackles last season with the Atlanta Falcons. "Obviously, when we get pads on and get in the game, we can see how that motor works. He's a naturally gifted guy with kind of a cool demeanor, but I'm sure he has a lot of aggression in him. I'm excited to see him work."
Walker, like many younger Jaguars defenders, has done extensive extra post-practice work with fourth-year veteran Josh Allen – first in the offseason program and now in training camp. That's a relationship that quickly has become important to both players, with Walker on Wednesday saying "I'm very grateful to have Josh."
"He's still young, he can relate to me, he's been in my shoes," Walker said. "He's just taught me everything that he knows, and that's a lot of knowledge that I need coming into the league. It's very important."
Allen and Walker – along with other young Jaguars pass rushers – shortly before '22 camp opened worked with former Indianapolis Colts All-Pro pass rusher Robert Mathis.
"I learned a lot from him," Walker said "One of the main things he told me is, 'Be patient. Everything will come. Once I start to realize the small things within my moves, everything will start to tie together from there.' I was always trying to work on my hand-eye coordination. It all starts with my get-off. If I'm getting off the ball, the offensive linemen are going to have to commit to me at some time, so I let my fluidity and my speed work for itself.
"One thing I can say about the NFL is a lot of different players do a lot of different things. It's just I'm the type of person to pick things out, pick people's brains, find the things that I can do for myself. Everybody is not going to be able to do the same, but I can take some little small detail and put it into my game."
Walker said he has focused on doing just that in camp's early, unpadded days. He said he is grasping defensive schemes better than during the offseason program, and that perhaps the trickiest part of camp is getting enough rest.
"Sneaking in that little 30 minute nap in-between meetings and things like that," he said with a smile, adding of his transition to the NFL: "It's going good, getting acclimated to the heat, being back on the field with all the guys, everything back full speed. I'm definitely comfortable. It's just with me; I'm the type of person to take it as it is.
"I'm just going to continue to try to move forward whatever it is in life."
Jaguars offensive coordinator Press Taylor on wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr.'s projected role: "It's fluid. It goes week by week. You want to feature his skillset, and his skillset is that he's a great ball carrier. There are ways you want to hand it to him, toss it to him, throw it to him in the flat. Within that, you have to complement everything you do. He has the ability, he has the speed to still get down the field and make some plays. As long as it fits the package and things we're trying to build around it, we plan to utilize him when he's in there and has the opportunity."
"We're running it up, we're stacking days." Overheard from the No. 1 pick during Day 3 of the 2022 Jaguars Training Camp. Swipe through to view top shots from practice.