LB Sione Takitaki
There is no unit more mangled by injuries on the Browns’ roster than the already thin and inexperienced linebacking corps. However a bright spot from that unit, despite another injury to third-round rookie Jacob Phillips, was second-year linebacker Sione Takitaki, who played 92 percent of the defensive snaps and had a good showing.
While it appeared he was too shallow on his landmark in zone coverage on the initial Mark Andrews touchdown to start the game, Takitaki put together a solid day of tape otherwise. Showing strong in run support, both setting the edge and in his fits, Takitaki shows why linebackers coach Jason Tarver and defensive coordinator Joe Woods have entrusted him with the strongside linebacker job.
He led the team in tackles, but more importantly did a stupendous job of keeping the edge in contain, forcing Jackson back inside. It just so happened the returning MVP is excellent at stepping up in the pocket and navigating space as well.
Takitaki struggled heavily a year ago in his transition to the NFL, and even struggled to see the field on anything other than special teams. However, with the current situation of the linebackers in Cleveland, his strong, or at the very least consistent play deserves to be appreciated. As Thursday night approaches, he will be a fun one to watch as he can hopefully continue to develop into a consistent SAM for the Browns.