Things just can’t go smoothly for Clive Walford. As a rookie, he was injured in pre-camp warm-ups, causing him to miss almost all of camp. This year, he gets in an ATV accident and misses all of the offseason with a knee injury.
Walford downplays the injury for the most part, saying there was a hump he didn’t see and he just "came off of it."
"Believe it or not, when the accident first happened, I didn’t realize how serious it was until I actually got to the hospital. I thought maybe I just needed some stitches. They told me I was gonna be out for a while, so I had to inform the team."
The bright side of his injury this year is that he was able to start training camp from day one. He’s pretty happy about that.
"Can’t stop smiling," said Walford. "I’m back with the boys."
"I’m very grateful that I’m able to go out and participate in this camp because last year I didn’t. If we can establish a great amount of chemistry now, it’ll be great for the season."
Chemistry is key. It isn’t so simple as just being healthy and hitting the training camp field. These players have offseason workouts and minicamps for a reason.
"It’s crucial," said offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave. "We’ve missed a lot of time with Clive over the last number of months. Even this time last year he was on the shelf. So, it’s good to have them out there again for Derek and the quarterbacks for where he runs his routes, where to place the ball if it’s a contested catch, that type of thing. Great to have him out there. He’s got a lot of ability so he’s going to be a big part of what we do."
Once his knee was recovered, Walford has had to make up for lost time. He has gotten together with Derek Carr whenever possible in order to find his timing with his quarterback as well as shake off the rust and get up to speed with his team.
"Just building chemistry with him," Walford said of getting on the same page with Carr. "It was a great thing that I had the opportunity to play with him lasts year. During the offseason when some of the coaches and training staff allowed me to I went out with him and caught some balls. I think the chemistry is still there, I just gotta get back into football shape."
That has continued through pre-camp warm-ups and the first two days of training camp.
"You’ll see him every day we come out to warm up as soon as he comes out he comes straight to me and wants to catch from me," said Carr. "I can’t do it all myself, grabbing him all the time, he has to come and say, ‘Hey Derek, come get me,’ because I have a million things on my mind. He does a really good job of grabbing me and saying, ‘Hey throw to me.’ Yes, sir. No problem. That’s the kind of things that we need and that’s how he is."
There are some high expectations of Walford this season. His overall numbers from his rookie season last year don’t jump out at you, mainly because he got off to a slow start after missing training camp. By midseason he had his feet under him and showed a lot of potential.
Jack Del Rio made it clear last year that they have big plans for Walford. Obviously in order to live up to it, Walford will have to remain healthy. Not just for games, but for all camp practicing leading up to the season so that he doesn’t fall behind in this team’s offensive gameplan.