Very, very sad news regarding Browns MLB Anthony Walker with the torn quad tendon in his left leg. He injured it in Thursday night’s win over the Pittsburgh Steelers and after an MRI, the quadriceps tendon tear was revealed for the six-year veteran. Just a horrible injury for a first-team guy who had a terrific season.
Walker is now ruled out for the year.
RELATED: BROWNS LOSE ANTHONY WALKER TO INJURY
Prior to the game against the Steelers, Walker was listed in the league’s Top 10 Defensive Players on the Focus on professional football scoring system with a score of 90.8. His stats for the year included 13 total tackles, four tackles for loss, 3 starts and two slaps. The defensive captain of the Browns had three seasons where he made more than 100 tackles including 113 last year.
In the same match, JOK was injured but should come back. His PFF rating also ranked him in the Top 10 at 91.4, giving Cleveland two linebackers in the top echelon of defenders.
So with the news that Walker is out for the year, now what? What are the Browns’ options?
When the Browns selected Jacob Phillips out of LSU in the third round in 2020, they knew he was a productive center linebacker with speed who could make plays from sideline to sideline.
Like most other rookies who are defensive players, he played mostly on special teams, but made one appearance in nine games with three starts. At times he was sidelined with knee issues. Phillips had 25 total tackles, one slap pass, one tackle for loss, one QB hit and well, not much else. It was a learning year for the young man.
Phillips (6′-3″, 229 pounds) took a detour on his career. In only his second year with Cleveland, he suffered a bicep injury just as the season was about to unfold. when he reached out to grab a passing player. This placed him on IR which he missed the first 12 games. . His second season was supposed to become his contributor year and yet it was not with the biceps problem.This abbreviated year, Phillips had just 17 tackles and two tackles for loss.
One thing is certain: Phillips is in perfect health and has put on a lot of weight. Its natural position is in the middle.
During training camp, Walker was sidelined with a groin injury to which Phillips got all first-team defensive reps as linebacker MIKE.
Phillips played on 123 defensive snaps last year good enough for 10.98% of defensive plays. He also had 24 special teams snaps (5.65%).
During the offseason, Phillips joined the coaching staff and remained in the area. The result was the addition of muscle to his lean body and he now follows a plant-based diet.
The extra weight makes him appear beefier, which leans towards an imposing physique. Basically, he rebuilt his body. But the extra volume didn’t affect its speed. What he should do is increase his stamina during matches and hope his tackling abilities give him a little more punch.
In the offseason as well as in training camp, Phillips was in every game and knows exactly what the defense is doing. To play this MIKE linebacker role, you need to know what you’re doing inside and out, because you’re often directing traffic. Phillips has become a student of the game. The big question now is, is he ready to become the full-time starter?
Takitaki (6′-1″, 238 pounds) came to the Browns in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft at BYU where he played center linebacker. As a starter of four and captain of the defense, he was successful 237 career tackles with 32.5 tackles for loss and 14.5 sacks.
With Cleveland, he has established himself as a special teams demon, but plays sparingly on regular defense. He has 22 NFL starts and 137 total tackles to date.
In the first two games, he earned an 80.7 rating on PFF, fourth highest on the Browns’ roster. He can be physical and is very good at coming back to cover. His contract comes after this year and the discussion is whether an extension is eminent for the underrated linebacker.
Takitaki has been a constant presence on defense, but to date has been a situational player. With DC Joe Woods playing a lot of 4-2-5, this eliminates Takitaki in favor of another cornerback or safety. He managed to play 285 defensive snaps last season.
He can be a disrupter in the running game and has ranked quite well in that aspect. Better back in tight end coverage with a respectable 73.4 PFF rating last year.
Originally undrafted in 2019 after a successful career at American River College and then California, Kunaszyk (6′-3″, 235 pounds) was named First Team All Pac-12 and Second Team All-American after recording 143 tackles his senior year at Cal. He spent time with Carolina and Washington before coming to Cleveland. He is a devout Christian who plans to become a pastor once his football career is over.
Kunaszyk has played 29 NFL games with zero starts in four seasons. He has 16 total tackles and not much else stat-wise. After landing on the practice squad, he was one of two players the Browns would make active for games and then raised him permanently on September 21.
He is known as a movie addict and studies all the time. His 40 time of 4.82 is negative but he is a hard worker and hustle all the time.
AJ Johnson – Denver, 30
Johnson (6′-2″, 255 pounds) was with Denver for four years and has 249 total tackles with 34 NFL starts and 4.5 sacks. He tore a pectoral last year during the week 6 and the club never re-signed him Had 124 tackles for a full season in 2020. Despite being 30 years old, Johnson is an excellent linebacker.
Joe Schobert – Denver, 28
Schobert (6′-1″, 240 lbs) was a tackle machine when he played for Cleveland from 2013-2019. He was cleared to sign elsewhere as a crawl version with a huge contract looming, which he got Jacksonville.He was with Denver that year but has since been waived.
In Cleveland, Schobert totaled 408 tackles, including a league-leading 144 in 2017, his only Pro Bowl. He’s not a big bag and he’ll miss a few tackles, but he’ll do a lot more and help this defence.
Dont’a Hightower – New England, 32
The seasoned New England veteran is now on the other side of 30 and has a few miles on him, but remains in good physical condition and is a player. Taken in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft, Hightower won three Super Bowls along with two Pro Bowls and was named a Second Team All-Pro in 2018.
He has 569 career total tackles with 114 NFL starts, 27 sacks and 43 tackles for loss. Would be a leader in the locker room and a veteran presence on the pitch. Was a 2020 opt-out, but had 64 tackles last year and started every game.
What do you think is the best way to replace Anthony Walker?
Bring back Joe Schobert
Sign another free agent linebacker
520 votes in total