The Cleveland Browns defense took a big hit on Thursday with linebacker Anthony Walker Jr. being carted to the locker room with a leg injury.
Walker was looking to make a stop when he was hit by a block and folded over awkwardly, his leg getting caught under him. He was also laid on Steelers lineman Chukwuma Okoraforby after the play. Walker was face down on the field before the cart eventually came out to take him to the locker room.
Walker had seven tackles — three for a loss — heading into Thursday’s game against the Steelers. He garnered an elite grade of 90.8 of Pro Football Focus and was especially good in coverage.
Against the Steelers, Walker had already been doing work, with a team-high six tackles at the time of his exit.
Beyond his play, his voice in the huddle and in the locker room will be missed. After Cleveland’s defensive meltdown against the Jets, he took the blame for the issues amid some veiled fingerpointing going on.
“I’m the communicator,” Walker said. “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 was with the Colts prior to signing with the Browns in 2021 and All-Pro Darius Leonard was disappointed to see him go.
“Crazy to see such an amazing person, leader, player and a friend leave the locker room!” Leonard tweeted. “If y’all actually understood the impact he has on the locker room.”
Browns Also Lose LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah
Compounding the injury to Walker was the fact that second-year linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah also headed to the locker room with a quad injury. Owusu-Koramoah was in the medical tent and trying to stretch out before eventually heading to the locker room.
Entering the matchup he had racked up 13 tackles, which was tied for the team lead. His athleticism made him a unique piece of the defense, which turned to Jacob Phillips primarily to fill the void.
The injuries were aplenty for the Browns beyond the linebackers. Safety Ronnie Harrison injured his hamstring during warmups and defensive tackle Taven Bryan was dubbed questionable to return with a hamstring as well.
In the third quarter the Browns lost left tackle Jedrick Wills, who limped off the field after being rolled up on but quickly headed to the locker room. He later re-entered the game.
Browns Defense Shaky Early Against Steelers
The Browns were looking for a rebound performance against the Steelers after what happened against the Jets but didn’t exactly step up in the early goings.
One play there was no defense for was a one-handed snag by Pittsburgh rookie George Pickens in the first half. With shades of Odell Beckham Jr.’s viral catch from 2015, Pickens put Pittsburgh in a position to score their first touchdown of the game.
The Steelers missed a field goal and punted once in the first half, but were able to find some room with the run game in the first half. The Steelers also weren’t shy to go after Denzel Ward with their passing game after the highly-paid cornerback registered one of his worst games as a pro against the Jets.