The Cleveland Browns defense took a big hit Thursday when linebacker Anthony Walker Jr. was carted into the locker room with a leg injury.
Walker was about to stop when he was hit by a block and twisted awkwardly, trapping his leg underneath him. He was also placed on Steelers lineman Chukwuma Okoraforby after the play. Walker lay face down on the field before the trolley finally came out to take him to the dressing room.
Walker had seven tackles – three for a loss – ahead of Thursday’s game against the Steelers. He received an elite score of 90.8 from Pro Football Focus and was particularly good at reporting.
Walker had already had work to do against the Steelers, with a team-high of six tackles at the time of his elimination.
Aside from his game, his voice will be missed in the scrum and in the dressing room. After Cleveland’s defensive collapse against the Jets, he took the blame for the troubles amid some veiled pointers.
“I am the communicator” Walker said. “I’m the guy who’s supposed to line everyone up and obviously I haven’t done my job for two weeks in a row. I’ll take that and we’ll be back.”
Walker was with the Colts before 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 friend exit the dressing room!” Leonard tweeted. “If you really understand the impact he has on the dressing room.”
Walker’s injury was compounded by the fact that he was a sophomore linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah also went into the dressing room with a quad injury. Owusu-Koramoah was in the medical tent trying to stretch before finally heading to the locker room.
By the start of the matchup, he had scored 13 tackles that tied for the team lead. His athleticism made him a unique part of the defense, which primarily turned to Jacob Phillips to fill the gap.
Injuries abounded for the Browns beyond the linebackers. security Ronny Harrison injured a hamstring during warm up and defensive tackle. Taven Bryan was said to be questionable about returning with a hamstring as well.
In the third quarter, the Browns lost left tackle Jedrick Wills, who hobbled off the field after rolling up but quickly made his way to the dressing room. He later got back into the game.
The Browns were looking for a rebound performance against the Steelers after what happened against the Jets, but didn’t exactly perform in the early games.
One play that had no defense was a one-handed hook Pittsburgh rookie George Pickens in the first half. Using shades of Odell Beckham Jr.’s viral catch of 2015, Pickens put Pittsburgh in position to score their first touchdown of the game.
The Steelers missed a field goal in the first half and punched once, but were able to gain some space with the run play in the first half. The Steelers also weren’t shy about chasing Denzel Ward with their passing game after the high-paid cornerback registered one of his worst plays as a pro against the Jets.