2. Linebacker battles
The Browns biggest weaknesses on the defensive end off the ball up to this season have centered around the linebackers, especially their lack of skill set and speed to get to the edges. That kind of weakness was exposed when they lost to the Kansas City Chiefs last January in the Divisional Playoff Game.
The Browns went out and grabbed Anthony Walker, the free-agent linebacker from the Indianapolis Colts. The leader of the Colts defense a year ago, he has plans to take on that same role with the Browns and help manage the defense. Unfortunately, Walker tweaked his knee earlier this week in camp. All reports suggest that he’ll be okay and back on the field by the end of camp and before the season starts.
Obviously, this is a minor bump in the road as Walker will be an integral part of the defensive play-calling. But until then there are several questions at the linebacker spot and who stays and who gets cut?
Linebacker Mack Wilson has made headlines recently in camp, one because he and his girlfriend just had a baby, but on the football field it seems as though Wilson is determined to make the roster and be a mainstay here in Cleveland. In a recent scrimmage, he even intercepted one of Baker Mayfield’s passes down at the goal line to prevent a score.
Newly drafted Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, out of Notre Dame is listed as a linebacker on the current camp roster but is seen as a hybrid type player on the defense and could be moved around in Brown’s defensive coordinator’s Joe Wood’s defensive schemes. JOK is listed at 221 lbs but looks leaner than that, and with his quickness could play different roles.
Third-year player, Sione Takitaki, had a better season a year ago as he combined for 67 tackles and had a highlighted interception for a pick-six a year ago when they played the Philadelphia Eagles. Is he safe to make the 53 man roster?
Then there’s rookie Tony Fields, out of West Virginia, who’s been missing from camp because of a recent foot injury. He was also injured with the other foot during the spring training sessions. His timetable on a return hasn’t been discussed by the coaches and there must be some concern at this juncture if he makes the final roster?
Elijah Lee, a 6th year player out of Kansas State played in Cleveland last season and in Detroit with the Lions. He originally played for the San Francisco 49ers and had his best year with them in 2018 when he recorded 65 combined tackles with five starts at linebacker.
Does he take that final linebacker spot if the Browns keep let’s say six linebackers? That would leave linebackers Montrel Meander and Fields looking from the outside in and probably being moved to the practice squad or another team altogether. It also might mean that either Wilson or Jacob Phillips the 2nd year player out of LSU could be released too?
Wilson, like we mentioned before is having a great camp so far so we shall see?