4. Takitaki getting first-team reps
We all knew Mack Wilson was going to be starting and veteran B.J. Goodson had a good chance of being in the mix early at first. However, the third linebacker spot wasn’t as easy to figure out. That might not be the case anymore as the Browns have shown their hand when it comes to the position.
For the majority of their practices, the third linebacker on the field for them has mostly been second-year player Sione Takitaki. A third-round pick from BYU in 2019, Takitaki took a back seat to Wilson — who was drafted two rounds later — during their rookie season. He was mostly used on special teams and finished with 21 tackles on the year.
While he’s a good tackler, Takitaki struggled with reeling it in as a rookie. He was often over-aggressive which led to him taking poor angles. After a year of work in the NFL, he looks much more confident.
Of course, the real question is whether or not this means anything in the long-term. Cleveland has been using a more traditional defense early on in camp with three linebackers on the field. That’s in contrast to the belief that defensive coordinator Joe Woods plans on using a 4-2-5 set which takes off one linebacker in exchange for an extra safety.
Even if that’s the case, Takitaki could be in position to be the No. 2 guy next to Wilson. Surely, that’s what the team would want most of all, and he’s being given the chance to prove he can handle that early on.