Sione Takitaki took a majority of the first-team reps for the Cleveland Browns at linebacker.
One of the major questions coming into the 2020 season was who would step up at linebacker for the Cleveland Browns. After the departure of veterans Christian Kirksey and Joe Schobert, the only player with substantial NFL experience is second-year player Mack Wilson.
There is no doubt the group is using the doubters as motivation. Wilson, who is very active on social media, has noted multiple times he was ready to prove the doubters wrong. While the fans hope he is right, there is a reason for questioning the talent on the roster.
Many expect Phillips to compete for starting snaps, but so far Takitaki appears to be on the field for most of the first-team reps. With no preseason though, anything can still happen.
Takitaki could not find the field for much of last season as he battled through a nagging injury. But when he was given opportunities, his feet where often ahead of his mind. It was common to see him caught off guard on play-action and to over-run misdirection plays. All of these things are correctable with experience, coaching, and film study.
The limited offseason will make it even tougher for young players to develop, but don’t be shocked if Takitaki moves leaps and bounds from last season.
Wilson may only be a second-year player, but he appears to be the vocal leader of the defensive squad and could have a dramatic impact in 2020. Phillips will continue to get better with each rep, but the battle for the second starting linebacker will be tough.