Erik Walden appreciates the Cowboys

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Outside linebacker Erik Walden was the only member of the Cowboys’ 2008 draft class who got cut.

Not that he’s bitter as he prepares to start for the Packers in Super Bowl XLV.

“I’ve got no animosity toward the Cowboys,” said Walden, who expects to play despite a sprained ankle suffered in the NFC championship game. “If you think about it, they opened the door for me. If anything, I need to be thanking them.”

Walden doesn’t blame the Cowboys for cutting him. He said he lacked confidence in himself during his rookie training camp and preseason, and that reflected in his performance.

It’s not like the Cowboys are the only NFL team to give up on Walden. He also played for the Chiefs as a rookie and for the Dolphins in parts of the last three seasons.

He admits that he does have a “chip on his shoulder” about his departure from the Dolphins. Miami made him a “scapegoat,” according to Walden, after their Sept. 26 loss to the Jets. He missed a block that resulted in a blocked punt in that game.

Walden was out of the league until midseason, when the injury-depleted Packers signed him. That move paid off big, particularly in the win-or-go-home regular-season finale, when Walden earned NFC defensive player of the week honors with 16 tackles and two sacks in a 10-3 victory over the Bears.

“I became more of a student of the game,” Walden said, identifying why things have clicked for him in Green Bay. “I don’t think I was doing that earlier in my career as much as I needed to.”