LB Anthony Walker Jr. (12.18.21)

On his experience with COVID-19:

“It is funny, I texted my dad and was like, ‘Dude, if I would have told you the symptoms that I had, you probably would have had me definitely go to school and definitely would have had all of my after-school activities like everything was normal.’ I did not feel much – more so nasal congestion. I had 100 percent attendance from kindergarten to senior year of high school. There were not too many things that I was missing school for. It was kind of weird to feel kind of normal and then have to miss a couple of days.”


On how crazy the past couple of days have been for him:

“Obviously, the hand we were dealt, again, I do not think the guys flinched either way. If we would have had to play with [or without] the reschedule or anything like that, I think we have had a lot of mature guys handle it the right way and great coaches who have kept us engaged and locked in for whatever was handed to us. I think the guys just stayed focused on the process. Obviously, the game was rescheduled. Obviously, we should be able to get a couple of guys back hopefully within the next few days. The guys, we were ready to rock however it shook out. I think the guys were again just 100 percent locked in. Obviously, however the league decided to handle it, we were going to be prepared for it.”


On if he was told he was a player who benefited from the updated COVID-19 protocols as it relates to returning from the reserve/COVID-19 list:

“No, I was not told that.”


On the new protocols allowing NFL players to potentially return from the reserve/COVID-19 list sooner than the past if they are not experiencing symptoms:

“Obviously, I am not a doctor. If everyone had the answers to it, I am pretty sure we would have an answer for it right now. Right now, I think the league is just doing what obviously they feel is safe. For us, we just comply, and we see where we go from there. COVID is the real thing at the end of the day. That is what we have to take that as. It is not going anywhere any time soon. We can put in protocols and we can put in things, but it is still there. We are just trying to find the best way to fight this and still be able to put on a show, go out there and play games on Sunday. I think everyone is obviously trying to find the best way to do that, and it is ever-changing right now because we do not have the answer.”


On if he tested negative once or twice before returning from the reserve/COVID-19 list:

“I tested negative twice.”


On how the Browns defense adjusts when potentially not having its top three Ss on Monday:

“It is tough. Obviously, you are missing three great athletes, great players and great students of the game, but I have nothing but the utmost respect and confidence for the guys who are going to come in and play for them. (S) M.J. Stewart, a great athlete and a very smart player, (S) Richard LeCounte (III), obviously very athletic and smart player, (S) Javonte Moffatt, another just very freakishly athletic guy. If they have the opportunity, I have no doubt that they will go and get the job done. I have the confidence in them, but obviously, I have to help them as much as possible, me being the MIKE linebacker and making sure that we are all set, we all know what the coverage is, all know what we are playing and communicating. I think that is the main thing.”


On posting inspirational messages to social media in the past week and his ability to stay positive despite facing adversity:

“Thank you for that. For me, I just try to focus on growth every day – growth and understanding that this is a process. Again, with everything, life is full of ups and downs, and I try to keep that even-keel, even-flow, obviously with my Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior first and staying locked in on that. For me, just like I said, that even-keel and not getting too high and not getting too low with the ebbs and flows of the season. Staying locked in every day on just getting better on the football field and off the football field, whatever it is. I think that is the same mindset with our team. Everybody is just keeping that same even-keel and trying to stay focused on the process more than the results right now. If you stay focused on the process and you do the little things right… I am stealing this from a coach I saw speaking to his team and I want to say it was the coach at Georgia Tech, and it was one of the best speeches I have ever heard, he told the team – can you be OK with doing the little things, going through the process and not winning or not being as successful as you thought you would? Doing the little things, preparing every day and working hard in practice and everything like that does not guarantee a W; it guarantees that you are going to put yourselves in the best position to do it, but it still does not happen that way. We have had times where we played really good ball, and we have had times where we did not. I think guys just staying locked in on getting better, the little details and everything like that so that now I think we are starting to hit our stride. If you watch the game last week – I had a great view from home (laughter) – the guys played great. The defense was flying around, and the offense was catching rhythm. That is what you want. You want to be trending in the right direction in December, and I think we are doing that right now.”


On how he spent his time away from the team, given he felt OK while on the reserve/COVID-19 list:

“I tried to make the most of some at-home workouts. For me, there are not many things that I like doing… I really do not like medicine. I really do not like getting shots or anything like that. I think I got my last shot growing up for school, I think I got it when I was 12, and I cried. I hate needles and everything like that. When I am sick or when I am trying to battle to get back or something like that, whatever it takes at that point. I was taking a lot of medicine and whatever to get the virus out of my body, trying to whatever it took at that point. Staying engaged. Staying in Zoom meetings. Facetiming with the other guys while they are in meetings to stay locked in. Watching practice film. Watching the game from at home. Just trying to stay engaged as much as possible. It is tough obviously not being out there with your brothers every day. Shoot, this is your life. This is what you do right now. You play football. To not be there is weird. It is weird for me. It is weird missing this many games this year. It sucked. I texted my Dad, ‘I missed one game in three years,’ – my last three years playing. This year, I have missed four now. My whole goal was I am not missing another one, and I tried to do everything I could. Obviously, not having symptoms, I was able to do a little bit more as far as at-home workouts and stuff like that. Just trying to do whatever I can to help my team obviously while not being there but also trying to get back.”


On if he gained a new perspective watching the games he missed:

“You gain perspective every time. For me, every time I am able to watch any football game, I try to gain a little bit more of perspective. For me, this one here was… You never know. For me myself, you never know how the game could be taken away. Obviously with COVID now and not being injured, that was weird. Most of the time, you miss games from being injured, not from being sick or whatever it is. It puts more into perspective that COVID is still a real thing. Obviously, the game that we played that I was able to watch the guys play against Baltimore, you never know what plays would help us win the game. Looking at the fourth down play when the defense had to get a stop, I see (CB) Denzel Ward, I am watching him and I am watching the call. I knew what the call was from watching the TV. I knew the ball had to come out quick, and I saw Denzel. I saw he did not take a step back – if you watch, he just did not take a step back – and he just triggered. You just never know when your number is going to be called. Ward has played great all year, but that was a huge play. I am not saying it saved our season, but that was a huge play. That is a huge play in our season right there. To see him make a play like that, a guy who worked so hard – obviously, he won [the Browns] Walter Payton Man of the Year – but just making a play when his number is called like he has done all year, and to see him do it again was awesome.”


On Raiders players expressing frustration that the game was postponed to Monday:

“We all saw it and everything like that. Either way, the league made a decision. The game is 5 p.m. on Monday. We are prepared for it. That is all we can take care of. We can’t worry about anything else. We will be ready on Monday at 5 p.m. when the game is scheduled. That is all I have to say about that one. Thanks (Browns C and NFLPA President) JC (Tretter) for being on the Browns (laughter).”


On how much Tretter has spoken with the team about COVID-19 matters:

“He has kept us involved in everything. JC does a great job of communicating. Throughout the whole process and throughout the whole offseason, he has communicated with us and with other teams. He is the president of the NFLPA, not just the Browns. He has done a great job. He has communicated over the top with us. It has been great having JC.”


On QB Nick Mullens:

“Nick Mullens is a guy who I have the utmost confidence in because I see the way that he prepares when he is not playing and he is on practice squad. I see the way he comes in every day and prepares. I like to say I am one of the first guys that is in the building every day, and every day I get in and Nick Mullens is always there before me. A guy who comes in the building every day with the mindset of ‘I am preparing like a starter’ because you never know what could happen, he is the epitome of that. Today at practice, he made some great throws. I have nothing but respect for him and his process of being a true professional. Also, I have nothing but confidence that he is going to go out and do a great job on Monday, as well. I have confidence in him.”


# # #