Training Camp to Test Commitment To Excellence of Walker, Fields

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Trips to the Napa Valley usually include wine tasting and some rest and relaxation.

Beginning Thursday, former Cal football players Langston Walker and Marcus Fields travel together to Napa for a grueling six-week NFL training camp with the Oakland Raiders.

The former Bears will try to impress the Oakland coaching staff and prove themselves worthy of roster spots and hopefully even some playing time.

"All your life you have worked for an opportunity to play in the league," Fields says. "Now here it is."

Training camps begin this week for most of the NFL teams, many boasting former Cal players on their rosters.

The Bears had 24 former players on NFL rosters in 2001, the second-most in the Pac-10 and 14th in the NCAA.

The 6-foot-8, 345-pound offensive lineman Walker and 6-foot-2 225-pound Fields have performed well in previous mini-camps. They are both anxious about the added pressure of the upcoming opportunity.

Although the Raiders coaching staff has been impressed by Fields' mobility and Walker's size, the concern now is how quickly the two can comprehend a complex NFL offense and terminology while adjusting to the increased speed of play.

"Everything is much faster on this level and there are many new terms and assignments that have to be learned in a short period of time," Walker says. "But I am confident in my ability."

To his advantage, Walker had the opportunity at Cal to practice against former teammates who are now in the NFL.

Former Bears defensive linemen Jerry Deloach (Washington Redskins), Jeremiah Parker (New York Giants), and Andre Carter (San Francisco 49ers) have all done their parts in getting Walker battle-tested for the talent level of the NFL.

With similar backgrounds and personalities, Fields and Walker have developed a growing friendship since their first year together at Cal.

"They are both quiet guys," says former Bears teammate and current Detroit Lion Chidi Iwuoma. "They also play hard with determination."

Walker and Fields are also both local products. Fields attended Stagg High School in Stockton and Walker went to Bishop O'Dowd in Oakland.

If either of them make the Raiders squad, you can be sure they will have a sizable fan base at the Oakland Coliseum this fall.

"Being from the local area definitely has an upside," says Walker. "I really want to play in front of my family every Sunday and make them proud."

Walker and Fields both also have stong and supportive family-oriented backgrounds.

Their families have also become good friends since the fall of 1997 and hope to continue to sit together and watch their sons play on the same field in years to come.

While Walker and Fields may have left their marks at Cal with their accomplishments over the last four years, the upcoming weeks will be their chance to impress the Raiders coaching staff and eventually set new marks in the NFL as well.

Though they both still have a lot to prove, with each other's support they look forward to the challenge.


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