Most jobs require a particular skill set.
Houston Texans wide receiver Kevin Walter says his best assets aren’t what you’d expect.
“People will ask me ‘How do you catch a football?’ ” Walter said. “It’s not with your hands, like (they) think. You catch the ball with your eyes. That’s the most important thing a receiver can do.”
So far, that strategy is working for Walter. A native of Lake Forest, Ill., and standout at Eastern Michigan University, Walter set school records in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns before becoming a seventh-round draft choice of the New York Giants in 2003.
The Giants cut Walter in training camp but after a stint with the Cincinnati Bengals, Walter signed with the Texans in 2006 and has been there ever since.
“Going into my senior year of college, I knew I had a shot at the NFL,” he said. “I always loved playing the game, and all I wanted was an opportunity. You never know how it’s going to go once you’re in the league. Being released (by the Giants) … it wasn’t the end of the world at all. In Cincinnati, I had some good veterans in (receivers) Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh to learn from. It all helps.”
Now, he’s playing alongside one of the NFL’s best receivers in Andre Johnson and is committed to his role with the Texans.
One other asset Walters has come to appreciate is Cutters Gloves, which uses C-TACK Performance Grip Material to help receivers hang on to the ball. Cutters is the official glove of USA Football.
“Cutters are the best gloves out there,” Walter said. “I tried gloves early on in my career, but there’s nothing that compares to these new ones. They make my job so much easier. The grip on the palm is perfect for catching because it’s sticky, and the gloves fit your hands perfectly. Some other gloves are heavy, and when you sweat they get wet, but Cutters don’t do that.”
Getting a hand from Cutters leaves Walter free to focus on what’s really important – making his routes as precise as possible.
“Every time I run a route, I have to get to the exact right spot,” he said. “Actually, catching the ball seems like the simplest step, but it’s really important to focus on. Some guys try to make a move before the ball is actually in their hands, but it’s always catch first, move second.”
The speed of the game is faster in the NFL compared to college, but Walter said the basic fundamentals remain the same – as does the work ethic that’s driven him to be the best he can be.
“In the NFL, this is your job, so you better be professional, prepare hard and do the right things off the field,” he said. “I’m trying to get better every year. In this league, you’re getting better or you’re getting worse. There’s no middle ground.”
With the 2012 season starting soon, Walter and the AFC South-defending champion Texans are looking to build upon the franchise’s first playoff appearance.
“We’ve had a good, solid training camp this offseason,” Walter said. “It’s been so competitive. It’s going to be a good year. Everyone is excited.”