3 Cleveland Browns starters that could be replaced by start of 2023 season

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2. Browns LB Anthony Walker, Jr.

Anthony Walker, Jr. grew into a leader on the Cleveland defense last season. Early in the year, everyone was pointing fingers as they had meltdowns against the Carolina Panthers and the New York Jets in Weeks 1 and 2.

Walker, however, was the lone player taking the blame for the issues. The middle linebacker was charged with calling plays and he took that to heart, saying the communication issues were his fault (even though it's hard to agree since it was all secondary lapses).

"I’m the communicator, I’m the guy who is supposed to get everyone lined up, and obviously, I didn’t do my job two weeks in a row. I’ll take that one, and we will be back."

Walker on the early season struggles

Even knowing Walker wasn't at fault, it was impressive to see him fall on the sword in order to protect his teammates. Unfortunately, Walker didn't get to lead the troops much longer as he was lost to an injury in Week 3.

With him out, several players tried their hand at the MIKE linebacker spot but none stood out the way Sione Takitaki did. The former third-round pick from BYU was impressive in this role but he too succumbed to an injury, tearing his ACL in a Week 13 win over Houston.

Now heading into 2023, both Walker and Takitaki were re-signed and could end up battling for the role at MIKE. Either one would still have a major role in the defense even if they didn't win this spot but the communicator is an important job — that could be up for grabs.