A torn quad tendon will end Anthony Walker’s season which means the pressure will be on Jacob Phillips as the Cleveland Browns new middle linebacker
While the Cleveland Browns secured a divisional-round win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday Night Football, they did get some bad news on Friday.
Anthony Walker, who had to be carted off in an air cast during the game, had an MRI and according to Adam Schefter, he suffered a torn quad tendon and will be out for the season. With him headed to IR, Jacob Phillips will be stepping into the middle linebacker role — which means he will also be wearing the green dot on his helmet allowing him to call plays.
That’s always a huge responsibility, but there could be even more pressure on Phillips this year with the way Cleveland’s defense has played. It’s no secret that communication has been an issue as the defense surrendered huge plays in the passing game in Weeks 1 and 2. This led to a lot of criticism and a players-only meeting and while they were better against the Steelers, changing the MIKE will be a huge test.
Talent is the question for Browns when it comes to Phillips
The good news is that talent won’t be an issue for Phillips. He stepped in on Thursday after Walker was lost and put together a phenomenal game. He recorded seven tackles, one sack, and had a huge pass breakup on a third down play as well.
Phillips, who was playing very well throughout training camp was getting first-team reps for a while and the Browns even tried Walker on the outside. In the end, they trusted the veteran more and kept him in the starting role he assumed in 2021.
Before the injury, Walker was playing his best football. The numbers weren’t elite as he had 13 tackles and two pass defenses but he did already record four tackles for a loss and continued to show up when needed most. That included stepping up as a leader and taking accountability for their issues when no one else wanted to.
Cleveland will miss Walker due to his calming voice and football savvy. But they know Phillips has the talent to get it done, but the pressure will be on him to keep everyone focused as he becomes the quarterback of the defense.