GREEN BAY – It’s unclear whether Erik Walden will play Sunday against the New York Giants, as the Green Bay Packers starting right outside linebacker referred a gaggle of reporters at his locker Tuesday to coach Mike McCarthy on his playing status.
Walden, speaking publicly for the first time since his early Friday morning arrest on suspicion of domestic battery, apologized to the Packers organization, his teammates and his fans but wouldn’t speak about the specifics of his case, saying “I respect the process” of the legal system and not commenting further.
“I want to apologize to the entire organization, my teammates and the fans,” said Walden, who started Thursday’s Thanksgiving Day victory at Detroit before spending the weekend in the Brown County Jail after his arrest. “You know, it’s an ongoing process, I respect that process, and it’s just unfortunate that I brought something negative from so much positive that’s going on with this organization. … I’m cooperating fully.”
Brown County District Attorney John Zakowski said Monday that the victim, Walden’s live-in girlfriend and the mother of the couple’s two children, originally told police they were arguing and he pushed her but she has since changed her story to say she started the altercation and Walden was simply defending himself.
No charges have been filed against Walden at this point, although Zakowski said the investigation is ongoing. Walden is scheduled to return to court Dec. 7.
Asked by one reporter if he could say anything to reassure fans that he’s a good person, Walden replied: “Again, I just want to apologize,” Walden said. “I feel terrible about the situation. Just ready to move on and play football.”
Whether he gets to play football Sunday for the undefeated Packers will be up to McCarthy, who was not scheduled to speak with the media until Wednesday.
“You’ll have to talk to coach about that,” Walden said.
Asked if he was resigned to the possibility that he may not be allowed to play, Walden replied, “Absolutely.”
Walden confirmed that he and McCarthy had met following his release from jail Monday morning but opted not to share the substance of their conversation. While NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the incident is under review, the Packers could choose to suspend Walden before the NFL acts. The Minnesota Vikings suspended cornerback Chris Cook after his arrest the day before the Packers’ Oct. 23 victory over the Vikings at the Metrodome, a game Cook missed while in jail.
If Walden is suspended, the Packers could start Frank Zombo or Brad Jones in his place, and could use undrafted rookie free agent Vic So’oto as well.
“It’s my job to be ready,” said So’oto, the only one of those three players to make himself available to reporters during the media session Tuesday. “We’re 11-0 and Erik is playing the best that I’ve seen him play as of late. He had the game ball for the Lions game and was one of the better players on defense in terms of his production. It’s just my spot right now to be a practice hero.”
Fellow linebacker Desmond Bishop said he hadn’t followed Walden’s situation closely but wasn’t concerned about it affecting the team.
“I didn’t really know what was going on. Without getting the full story from him or from a reliable source, I didn’t pass judgment, I was just waiting for Monday to get the real story on what really happened,” Bishop said. “I don't really think it's that much of a distraction. With a team like ours, with strong-minded people, something like that is not going to get in our way from accomplishing our goal."
Listen to Jason Wilde every weekday from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. on “Green & Gold Today,” and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/jasonjwilde.