Erik Walden deserves to be suspended

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts still hadn’t heard about linebacker Erik Walden's one-game suspension when media reports surfaced Monday afternoon.

“I haven’t heard anything from the league,” coach Chuck Pagano said.

Pagano said last week that he expected the league to discipline Walden after he ripped off Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker's helmet and then head-butted him in the second quarter of the Nov. 14 game. Walden was penalized but not ejected for his actions.

ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported that Walden likely wouldn’t have been suspended if he had been ejected from the game.

To Walden’s credit, he stood up and answered every question asked about the incident after the game. He called his actions “selfish.”

At the same time, though, you can’t feel sorry for Walden because he’s getting suspended. The Colts were a different team at that point in the game. Walden's head-butt was the third straight unsportsmanlike penalty for Indianapolis. What he did to Walker was unsafe. Walden was standing face-to-face with the Titans tight end when head-butted him. Walden could have given Walker a concussion.

Yes, Walker threw a punch at Walden. But that was after the head-butt. Wouldn’t you react the same way if somebody with a helmet on head-butted you while you didn' t have a helmet on? The NFL is taking a stand in protecting its players.

Walden’s suspension will cost him about $191,000.

Walden has been talked about more over the past few days than he was talked about in the first nine games of the season.

That’s not a good thing when the Colts signed him to a four-year, $16-million contract during the offseason. Walden has only recorded 28 tackles and 2.0 sacks this season.

Rookie Bjoern Werner is the leading candidate to start in Walden’s place against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.

Werner missed three games this season with a torn plantar fascia.

“I’ll be ready if I’m starting, just like I was the whole time in case somebody goes down,” Werner said. “I’ll have to make the most of the opportunity. The injury earlier set me back a little bit, especially mentally, but I definitely feel more comfortable.”