The 2023 season for the Cleveland Browns defense was heavily influenced by the health of the unit, especially the linebackers. Unfortunately, this group faced an unprecedented number of injuries throughout the season, limiting the potential of the defense. The leader of the group, Anthony Walker, suffered a season-ending injury in Week 3, resulting in a change in the vocal leader and the player wearing the green dot on the defense.
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah battled injuries throughout the entire season. Despite frequently playing through the pain, he was occasionally forced off the field due to leg and foot injuries.
Sione Takitaki, Jacob Phillips, and Tony Fields also dealt with inconsistencies in their availability, resulting in the Browns having only three linebackers on the roster who played more than 10 games last season. Tony Fields was the sole linebacker who managed to play more than 12 games, highlighting the significance of prioritizing their health for an improved defense.
Optimism for Browns linebackers in 2023
Heading into camp, the rostered linebackers for the Browns include Anthony Walker, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Jacob Phillips, Sione Takitaki, Tony Fields, Matthew Adams, and Jordan Kunaszyk.
Considering Takitaki's ACL tear in December, it's likely that he will start the season on the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list, potentially opening up a spot for a practice squad player. Each member of the unit displayed promise at different stages of the season, providing hope for an improved group if they can maintain good health.
The additions to the defensive line should alleviate some pressure on the linebackers in the run game, making their job easier. Ensuring everyone's health and alignment is crucial for the defense to reach its full potential.