Physically. Mentally. Emotionally. Statistically.
Then, the Seahawks’ third-year wide receiver/returner found himself in the equivalent of nowhere for a NFL player. He was released on Saturday’s roster cut to 53 players, spent Sunday weighing his options and then re-signed with the Seahawks on Monday.
“I’m always going to be looking back and haunted about that one play,” Walters said in the locker room at O.co Coliseum. “But I’ll let it go eventually. It would have been nice to win the game. But I realize I left it all out there, that’s for sure.”
And, as coach Pete Carroll always says, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.
Before the Seahawks’ preseason finale was over, Walters had caught three passes for 47 yards, including a 7-yarder for a touchdown that cut the Raiders’ lead to seven points in the fourth quarter and a highlight-video over-the-shoulder grab of a 33-yard pass from Terrelle Pryor on third-and-5 to sustain a drive that ended in a field goal earlier in the final quarter. He also returned five kickoffs for 137 yards, including a 26-yarder on the opening kickoff that got the Seahawks rolling toward a four-play, 80-yard TD drive and 33-yarder on that drive to the field goal in the fourth quarter. He also had a 13-yard punt return.
Here. There. Seemingly everywhere. That was Bryan Walters in the Seahawks’ final tune-up before Thursday night’s nationally televised regular-season opener against the Green Bay Packers at CenturyLink Field.
And Walters was back to being part of the preparation during the Seahawks’ Labor Day practice at Virginia Mason Athletic Center.
But the play he couldn’t shake on Thursday night was the fumble on the Raiders’ second kickoff, after a 36-yard return. Raiders’ cornerback Keith McGill knocked the ball loose and defensive end Jack Crawford recovered. On the next snap, Raiders rookie quarterback Derek Carr threw a TD pass to give Oakland a 14-7 lead.
“It was very uncharacteristic of me. It was actually my first fumble. Ever,” Walters said.
Ever? Walters never did it as an option quarterback at Kirkland’s Juanita High School. Or as a record-setting return man and wide receiver at Cornell. Or in his first brief stint with the San Diego Chargers in 2011. Or in his first two seasons with the Seahawks.
“It feels weird,” he said. “I’ve never had that feeling before.”
And his teammates could feel for him.
“He had an exceptional game, so that was the exciting part.”
This was an important game for Walters after he was forced to sit out the previous week’s game against the Chicago Bears because of a rib injury he got the previous week against the Chargers.
“It would have been nice to play last week,” he said. “It kind of hurt missing that game. But other than that, I feel good about my performance. I capitalized on some of the opportunities I got. One little slipup, but that won’t stop me.”
And on a night when the Seahawks fell short in the long run, Walter wouldn’t be stopped. He was there until the end, despite the way the game started for him.
“You want a guy that can bounce back because you’re going to have adversity every once in a while,” Wilson said. “And Bryan Walters is so even keeled. He works so hard every day. So to see him shine the way he did tonight, I thought it was pretty special.”
In the end, Carroll said it best, “He’s a really good ballplayer.”
So good, that he’s back with the team after his weekend in limbo.