Originally created 12/04/01

Wesley Walls feels like he's being phased out



CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers tight end Wesley Walls said he feels like he's being phased out of the team's offensive game plan and he isn't sure if he'll be back next season.

Walls, the franchise's all-time leader in touchdown receptions with 38, has three years left on his contract, but wondered aloud on Monday if the Panthers (1-11) plan to release him after this season.

"After what has gone down here, nothing will surprise," said Walls, referring in part to the team's decision to release veterans Steve Beuerlein and Eric Davis after last season. "The way I feel right now is I don't feel like I'm a big part of what we're trying to do here."

Walls, who has been to four Pro Bowls with the Panthers (1996-99), said he feels like he's being phased out of the game plan over the last month.

After catching 30 passes for 308 yards and four touchdowns in the first eight games of the season, he has just eight catches for 98 yards and one touchdown in the last four.

Nonetheless, he was the team's leading receiver in Sunday's 27-23 loss to the New Orleans with three receptions for 49 yards. He's currently third on the team in receptions with 38 and first in touchdown catches with five.

"I don't like it one bit," Walls said of his role in the offense. "But I don't want to make this about me... I just think when you go into a game that you have matchups and you take advantage of those matchups."

Walls, 35, questioned whether the coaching staff still has confidence in his ability.

"It's very frustrating because I don't know if they think I can't do it and they don't want to use me," Walls said. "That's up to them, but that's frustrating."

When asked if he's talked to head coach George Seifert, Walls replied, "There's nothing I can say to coach. Obviously they don't feel strongly enough about the matchups to call them, or they would call the plays."