The Cleveland Browns will have a new starting linebacker in 2019, and there was a surprising player filling that role during the last day of minicamp.
The Cleveland Browns are going to have a new starting linebacker on their defense in 2019 after releasing Jamie Collins earlier in the offseason. The open spot has created a competition, albeit a quiet competition.
The expectation was second-year linebacker Genard Avery would be taking over the job after showing plenty of potential in his rookie season. However, he has been working with the defensive ends often and was with the second-team defensive line during minicamp.
That has opened the third linebacker spot next to Joe Schobert and Christian Kirksey for Adarius Taylor, who the Browns signed to a two-year, $5 million deal this offseason. According to Dan Labbe of cleveland.com, Taylor has moved around the linebacker rotations, but was with the first-team during Thursday’s practice.
More from Dawg Pound Daily
- How the Browns could maximize Nick Chubb in 2023
- Can Deshaun Watson get to Patrick Mahomes level for Cleveland Browns?
- 3 Cleveland Browns who should see an expanded role in 2023 and 1 who should not
- Is Marcus Davenport on the Browns radar in 2023?
- 5 Free agents from Super Bowl LVII Cleveland Browns should target
"Adarius Taylor is going to be a factor in the linebacker rotation. He spent time working alongside Ray-Ray Armstrong with the second unit on Wednesday. Thursday, he was on the field with Joe Schobert and Christian Kirksey when the Browns went to three linebackers. – Labbe, Cleveland.com"
When the Browns signed Taylor, the initial expectations for the 28-year-old linebacker were that he would have a larger role on special teams while having a smaller role on the defense. Taylor was a special teams captain with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, so his signing seemed like the Browns were attempting to shore up their special teams unit.
But it is becoming apparent the Browns like what they have seen from Taylor in the defense so far this offseason. Taylor started 10 games at linebacker last year with the Buccaneers and played in 15 games, making 60 total tackles, four tackles for loss, one sack, one forced fumble, one interception and five passes defensed.
The Browns are not expected to be in their base defense often, so the third starting linebacker will be on the field for a small portion of games. And defensive coordinator Steve Wilks prefers to have an extra defensive back on the field playing closer to the line of scrimmage instead of the third linebacker.
Even though the Browns will likely have only two linebackers on the field for the majority of games, Taylor’s presence on the first-team defense during minicamp was surprising. If he keeps that spot when the Browns return for training camp will be a story line to watch.