NFL Vet Walters Knows The Routes
Troy Walters, who backed up Cris Carter at the end of his career, gave a few breathers to rookie Calvin Johnson and in between once ran a reverse behind a Peyton Manning block, saw how to get to Canton during 98 games and eight seasons with four teams as a Stanford-smart-steel-belted-second-line NFL wide receiver.
But Walters took a more circuitous route back to the pros to coach, a 10-year paid-his-dues sojourn through six colleges that included a stint as the wide receivers coach at Texas A&M with a room of graduate assistants by the name of Zac Taylor, Ben Martin and Clint Kubiak. One day Walters told them, “You guys remember me when you’re head coaches.”
“Those guys were very thorough and they worked their tails off,” said Walters this week, his first as the Bengals assistant wide receivers coach. “I wasn’t surprised when Zac got the job. Very detailed and he was the only coach that knew all the signals. If something happened to him, we were in trouble.”
Taylor, in his second season as Bengals head coach who counts Martin as his offensive line assistant, sent some signals with the two hires that rounded out his staff for 2020. Neither Walters nor assistant special teams coach Colt Anderson has coached a snap in the NFL. But they played for a combined 16 NFL seasons with Anderson, an undrafted safety, playing in 84 games during eight seasons with three teams while earning a rep as a smart, resourceful special teams player under some highly regarded kicking game coaches.
“They will be able to use the traits that made them great players in this league to help our players now,” said Taylor in a news release announcing the hires and sending the message he wants it done smartly with reliable players.
At 43, Walters is one of those fortuitous finds for an NFL team. A guy with a hard-to-argue-with resume. When he was the offensive coordinator coaching the receivers at Central Florida in 2017, Walters was nominated for the Frank Broyles Award that is given to the top assistant coach in the nation before leaving with head coach Scott Frost to become his offensive coordinator at Nebraska.
Now he’ll team with Bob Bicknell, the Bengals’ third-year receivers coach that has led four receivers to five 1,000-yard seasons with four NFL teams now that Tyler Boyd has checked in with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons.
And here comes Walters, who backed up three 1,000-yard seasons in Minnesota (one by Carter, two by Randy Moss), seven in Indianapolis (four by Marvin Harrison, two by Reggie Wayne, one by Brandon Stokley) and one in Arizona (Anquan Boldin). In Arizona he saw Larry Fitzgerald miss 1,000 by 54 yards and in that first year in Detroit Calvin Johnson fell more than 200 shy of 1,000.