Ex-teammates to face off in Houston
SEATTLE – Praise Martin-Oguike and PJ Walker grew up about 15 minutes apart in New Jersey. Martin-Oguike is from Woodbridge, while Walker is from Elizabeth. And, while they didn’t know each other back then, they became fast friends as teammates at Temple University.
“We’re good friends, very good friends,” Martin-Oguike said.
The Dragons defensive end and the Roughnecks quarterback spent three seasons going at each other in practice at the university in Philadelphia, Pa., but on Saturdays in college, they were working toward a common goal.
This Saturday, though, they will be on the same field as opponents for the first time when Seattle plays Houston at TDECU Stadium on Saturday at 11 a.m. PST on ABC.
“We’ve been competitive at practice,” he said. “Everything we did at Temple was very competitive. We talked trash every day.
“I told him, one day we’ll get to play against each other and we’ll see how that goes. I spent years chasing him around at practice. We got each other better.”
When asked if he was surprised with Walker’s success in the XFL so far, Martin-Oguike laughed. He knew what the quarterback was capable of. He just needed the right professional opportunity.
“No surprise at all,” Martin-Oguike said. “If he got a better situation when he was in the league, he would probably still be there right now. PJ he was a guy who wasn’t very loud. He was very calm, collected. He’s one of the guys who deserves more credit than he gets, especially at Temple. He didn’t really get enough credit.”
Since he’s watched Walker up close and personal for years, Martin-Oguike has been able to provide his Seattle teammates with insights into the quarterback’s game this week.
“He’s a great player,” he said. “Just be ready. Be in shape, get ready to run. I think we have enough speed on the team for him, we’ve just got to be smart and disciplined. He’s not like a regular quarterback where, after you stop him, that’s it. He can make plays happen for an extended period of time, so we’ve got to be very disciplined with him.”
The two friends spent years trash talking each other in practice and Martin-Oguike said they will pick up where they left off Saturday, but haven’t talked yet this week.
“We won’t talk till the game starts,” he said.
Once they take the field, it’s game on.
“Whenever you play against a guy you’ve talked trash with for years, it brings out the best in you,” he said. “I think he’s going to bring his game. He knows we’re going to bring our best against him and he’s going to bring his A-game, too. That’s how we like to play football.”