J.D. Walton came into this season having not played a down in the NFL for almost two full years because of injuries. Now he is three games away from playing in all 16 as the Giants' starting center.
"That's definitely a goal, to be able to get back in and play the whole season and stay healthy," Walton said. "We're not done yet. We have to keep on pushing through these last three games."
Walton started all 16 games for the Broncos in his rookie season in 2010 and then again in 2011. He started the first four games of 2012 but sustained an ankle injury that put him on injured reserve. In 2013, he began the season on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list and was waived by the Broncos on Dec. 17. The Redskins signed him, but he didn't play in any games for them. "I appreciate what they did," he said. "I was there for two weeks and kind of hung out."
Then, this offseason, he signed with the Giants. His durability was a big question, but so far he has answered that boldly.
"After missing the time that I did miss, it'd be huge getting back and finishing the season," he said. "I wish it was on a better note."
Speaking of ending on bad notes, Walton played his college football at Baylor, one of the schools that feels it was snubbed in the selection process for the new college football playoff.
"I don't think that's right," he said of Baylor being excluded from the four-team bracket. "They win the Big 12 back to back, they should have gotten in."
Walton nearly had a direct pipeline through which to voice that frustration. Archie Manning, father of the Giants' Eli Manning, was initially a member of the selection committee. He backed out of the responsibility early in the season, though, when he needed back surgery.
Imagine if Walton's school got passed over due in large part to the actions of the father of his quarterback?
"I would have ribbed him some, no doubt," Walton said. "It didn't present itself or I definitely would have."