The Cleveland Browns are hoping for the best after starting linebacker Anthony Walker exited Monday’s practice with a knee injury.
The team confirmed the knee injury for Walker, who could be seen limping to the locker room with trainers. However, the severity is still unknown.
Jeff Lloyd of Locked on Browns reported that an MRI was coming for Walker.
Walker is a former fifth-round pick who made a name for himself with the Colts. He moved into a starting role during his second season in the league and brings a wealth of experience to the table. He’s notched a pair of 100 tackle seasons, including 124 in 2019. He also has a trio of interceptions in his career.
Anthony Walker Set to Play Large Role for Browns
Walker was expected to hold down a starting spot with the Browns this season after signing a one-year deal worth $3 million this offseason. Walker was expected to be the defensive playcaller for the Browns with the green sticker on his helmet.
“You just want to put your defense and put yourself in the best situation,” Walker said. “You want to see the same thing the whole defense sees, but definitely what your coach sees because you know what he’s calling, you know what he’s expecting to see. You just want to make sure you’re on the same page.”
He’s already earned the respect and confidence of his coaches in Cleveland
“Anthony as a MIKE linebacker, you have heard us say he gets everybody lined up, and you have to be vocal and you have to know what you are talking about,” Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski said, per cleveland.com. “You have to be both loud and demonstrative in how you do it, but you better know what you are saying, as well.”
Walker was eager to join the Browns and called them a team trending in the right direction shortly after signing his deal in March.
“When you see a team trending in the right direction, you want to be a part of that,” Walker said. “Seeing them play last year, seeing the pieces they are adding this year, you know they are building something special.”
Mack Wilson Could be Asked to Step Up for Browns
If Walker does miss some time, Mack Wilson will be a player that needs to step up for the Browns. Wilson took over as a starter as a rookie, notching 77 tackles, one interception, four tackles for loss and seven passes defensed. But his second season started out rocky, with a hyperextended knee during training camp. When he did get on the field, it wasn’t pretty. He played in 13 games with eight starts, recording just 39 tackles.
Wilson has been seen as a player firmly on the bubble. In the July 28 Browns 53-man roster projection by ESPN’s Jake Trotter, Wilson is not among the six linebackers Cleveland keeps going into the season. Trotter notes that Wilson will have to have a “big camp” to stick around.
It’s not the first time Trotter has pointed out Wilson as a possible cut candidate; he also singled Wilson out in a July 6 article: “Wilson can still carve out an important role in the linebacking rotation, but to do that, he’ll have to play better than he did last season.”
Wilson had reportedly attached himself to the hip of Walker in an effort to improve his game. The other linebackers stepping up to fill the void will be Sione Takitaki, Jacob Phillips and veteran Malcolm Smith. Rookies Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (COVID-19 protocols) and Tony Fields II (foot) are not currently practicing.