Cleveland Browns who need to shine No. 2: Malcolm Smith, Linebacker
It’s true that the Browns have issues at the linebacker position but one player who goes under the radar despite playing well is Malcolm Smith. Part of the reason he goes unnoticed is that he doesn’t always see the field a lot.
For example, in Week 1 Smith had just 17 snaps — which was 17 percent of the defensive plays Cleveland ran. He wound up with just one tackle and didn’t make much of an impact on the game. But then in Week 2, he was on the field for 95 percent of the snaps, which was 58 plays.
Naturally, he was much more of a factor this time, recording eight tackles — five of which were solo. He also made much more of an impact, including an interception where he made a great play on the ball to come away with the turnover.
Now entering Week 3, he’s going to have a lot on his plate. Not only will he find himself at times needing to cover tight end Cole Kmet, but he will also be tasked with keeping one eye on Justin Fields at all times and neither task will be easy.
Kmet offers a challenge since he’s a 6-foot-6, 260-pounder who moves with ease. He was held in check with just one reception for no gain against Cincinnati but had 42 yards on five catches the week before — and we all know how easily a tight end can get open in this defense.
As for Fields, the rookie quarterback is known for his impressive running ability and since he’s still learning the pro game, he will likely lean on that often. Smith and the rest of the linebackers could find themselves faced with the tough task of chasing him down, which means they all need to be on top of their game, especially the veteran of the bunch.