Indianapolis Colts outside linebacker Erik Walden will be suspended for Sunday’s National Football League road game at Arizona, the NFL announced Monday.
Walden and Tennessee tight end Delanie Walker got into an altercation in the second quarter Thursday night in Nashville. Walden ripped Walker’s helmet off and then head-butted the helmetless Titans player.
Walden was flagged for a personal foul but was not ejected from the game, much to the consternation of the Tennessee coaching staff and players.
According to FoxSports NFL columnist Jay Glazer, though, league officials decided Monday to sit Walden for the Cardinals game. ESPN’s Chris Mortensen also confirmed the suspension with his sources. The Indianapolis linebacker said he will appeal the decision.
Neither Colts head coach Chuck Pagano nor team officials had been officially informed by the NFL of its decision as of early Monday afternoon.
Rookie outside linebacker Bjoern Werner and veteran backup Cam Johnson are expected to be the primary replacements for Walden. Inside linebacker Kavell Corner, who has some experience outside, might also see some work there.
“It was a selfish act,” Walden admitted after the Tennessee game. “It could have cost my team bigger than it did. I lost my composure.
“It’s something that can’t happen. It wasn’t really something [Walker] did. It was ticky-tack. I can’t allow myself to take it that far.”
Pagano had expected the NFL to take action.
“Yeah, I’m sure something obviously is going to come down with the league. You just hope and pray it’s nothing too serious. But you got to keep your cool. We talked about it as soon as they got off the field. We talked to all those guys. It doesn’t matter, they always catch the second guy. That’s forever,” the Colts coach said last Friday.
“He knows that. Erik’s a grown man, he’s accountable and he understands that. He doesn’t want to do anything to hurt this team. It’s frustration.”
Walker, though, seems ready for Round II when the Titans come to Lucas Oil Stadium on Dec. 1.
“That’s dirty play. There is no need for stuff like that in the NFL,” he said. “If you’re getting your butt kicked, get your butt kicked. Don’t rip somebody’s helmet off and then head-butt them. I’m surprised he didn’t get ejected.
“Dang, this is a sport we all play with each other, we’re all family, this is a fraternity. For you to do some senseless act like that, that just tells me what type of player you are. There is no need to talk. I’m going to see him in two weeks and I’m going to whoop his butt again.”
Walden, signed as a veteran free agent from Green Bay last spring, is ranked eighth in tackles with 28, including 18 solos. He also has a pair of sacks.
• Injury list — Cornerbacks Greg Toler (groin) and Josh Gordy (groin), along with safety Delano Howell (head), returned to practice on Monday.
All three are expected to be available for Sunday’s game at Arizona.
Toler, Gordy and Howell have all been sidelined since the Colts’ Oct. 20 home-field win over Denver.
• Familiar faces week — Toler played the previous four seasons with the Cardinals. The guy he replaced in the Indianapolis defensive lineup, cornerback Jerraud Powers, is now in Arizona.
Former Colts backup quarterback Drew Stanton now serves in the same role with the Cardinals behind starter Carson Palmer. Offensive tackle Bradley Sowell, who began his NFL career as an undrafted free agent in Indianapolis, is now in Arizona.
Several members of the Cardinals coaching staff, including head coach Bruce Arians, formerly worked in Indianapolis. Special offensive assistant Tom Moore was the Colts’ offensive coordinator while offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin was Indianapolis’ offensive line coach last year.
Arians earned NFL Coach of the Year honors last season after serving as the Colts interim head coach and offensive coordinator. He filled in for Pagano, who missed most of the season as he battled leukemia.
• Bethea honored — Safety Antoine Bethea was selected Monday as the Colts’ 2013 Man of the Year.
Bethea was chosen for his many off-field contributions to charities, both in Indianapolis and in his hometown of Newport News, Virginia.
“Antoine embodies everything this team is about,” Pagano said. “He is a tremendous player and continues to provide veteran leadership in our locker room and our community.”