Cleveland Browns practice on Friday saw injuries take center-stage. Deshaun Watson was throwing the ball, and his shoulder was the hot topic.
But a new injury popped up, and this one will cost the Browns a starter on Sunday.
Browns News: Sione Takitaki Injury Update
Browns linebacker Sione Takitaki suffered a hamstring injury late in practice on Friday and has already been ruled out for Sunday's game against the Indianapolis Colts.
Takitaki is the Browns’ starting SAM linebacker, and he’s been on the field for 54% of the team’s defensive snaps this season. That's not a massive void to fill, but it's especially significant when you consider that Anthony Walker is working his way back from a concussion (though he appears to have cleared the protocol, as he's off the injury report).
Tony Fields is probably the next man up at linebacker (it could be Matthew Adams, but I suspect Fields gets the nod), but I wouldn't necessarily expect him to fill Takitaki's full role. Instead we'll probably see Walker and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah pick up more snaps to carry most of the slack.
It will also mean more nickel sets, and Jim Schwartz may get creative and roll with three safeties on the field more often. Rodney McLeod could very well see his snaps increase by at least as much as Fields.
This increased reliance on safeties could even mean Ronnie Hickman gets to suit up on the active roster.
It's not just the replaceable snaps that make Takitaki's absence easy to survive either. He simply hasn't been playing very well this year.
Pro Football Focus has him graded out as easily the worst Browns starting linebacker on the year, with a 54.1 overall grade (including 63.5 against the run and 46.3 in pass coverage).
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