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Denver's Walker speaks, but only about football

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) -Javon Walker still isn't ready to talk about Darrent Williams dying in his arms in the back of a stretch Hummer limousine after they left a New Year's Eve party.

Sporting a mohawk that reminds many of the "fro-hawk" popularized by the vivacious Williams last season, Walker demurred when asked how he was doing.

"Football-wise, I feel pretty good," he said. "Last year, going into camp I was rehabbing (from two knee surgeries) and trying to learn on the run. This season, I feel healthy, feel strong and ready to give it a full go when the season starts."

Pressed about how he's dealing with Williams' death, Walker retorted: "Football, please."

Walker was the only teammate with Williams in his limo when it was sprayed with bullets as they left a Denver nightclub hours after the Broncos' season ended. Walker showed up at team headquarters in a daze hours later with a large blood stain across his shirt.

He was one of a handful of players who didn't fly with the team to Fort Worth, Texas, for Williams' funeral and had declined repeated requests for interviews all offseason.

On Wednesday, the team public relations staff ushered Walker to the podium outside the Broncos' facility to face reporters for the first time since Williams' death. Asked about breaking his silence, he said, "What better day than a day like today?"

Walker, however, talked only of football, saying he felt refreshed now that he's more than a year removed from surgery to repair his right anterior cruciate ligament, torn in Green Bay's 2006 opener.

Traded to Denver on draft day last season, Walker led the Broncos in every major receiving category, piling up 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns on 69 catches. He also became just the third wide receiver since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger to record a TD run and TD catch of at least 70 yards in the same season.

He said he was eager for the new season with strong-armed, second-year pro Jay Cutler under center. Cutler took over the starting job the final five weeks of last season but the pair's timing was never ideal.

That's changed, as evidenced by Walker's two long receptions Wednesday.

"We've had a whole offseason together. ... Right now, it feels like we've played 16 games already," Walker said.

Many fans figured Walker's new hairdo was a tribute to Williams, but Walker said there was no meaning behind it.

"Just something different," he said. "I got tired of wearing the same haircut all my life. So, I wanted something new and something different (to) stand out a little bit."

Regardless, there are plenty of reminders of Williams and backup running back Damien Nash, who died in March after a charity basketball game in St. Louis. Players are wearing helmet decals with their numbers, 27 and 29.

Safety Nick Ferguson said the defensive backs were watching film recently, and there was Williams - returning an interception against Oakland, holding the ball aloft as he trotted into the end zone.

"I think we rewinded it about four or five times, and we laughed," Ferguson said.

Still, there's sadness, too.

"Different things come up and remind you of his memory on a daily basis. Some of those you celebrate. Some of those bring you down," John Lynch said. "There's a number of vivacious guys in this league, but there was something unique and very special to him. He had a spirit about him that lifted everybody."

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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