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Burning Questions

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15 questions for LB Anthony Walker, who saw Browns go through a great week of preparation

The veteran leader says the defense is focused, ready to bounce back Sunday vs. Lions

Anthony Walker became an almost immediate leader on Cleveland's defense upon signing with the team during the offseason.

You simply can't miss or go without hearing the exuberant linebacker, who has provided a commanding presence in the middle of Cleveland's defense throughout the season. caught up with Walker as he wrapped up his preparations for Sunday's game with the Lions. You were adamant Monday the team needed to attack the rest of the season like it was the playoffs. Have you liked the response?

Walker: It was a great week of practice, a great week of preparation. Guys were mentally locked in. At this point, we already know what's at stake. Just taking it one game at a time and going out there to execute. Is it more frustrating for the defense because you know you're capable of putting together some great efforts?

Walker: Maybe a little frustrated but more so knowing we have the talent, the capability to be an elite defense. We just got to prove it every week, and that's part of the process. We understand there are some ups and downs, but we want to be on the more consistent side of it. What's been emphasized most this week?

Walker: At the end of the day, just execution. Everybody winning their one-on-ones and doing their job and finding a way to make a play for the team to win. That's it. What's the area the team can focus on to be better on third downs?

Walker: Just the execution part of it, everybody being on the same page, communication and going out there and doing our job. We feel like if we do that, we'll be hard to beat on third down. In 2018, you were on a Colts team that had a slow start to the season before hitting its stride in the second half of the year. Was there a turning point, and what goes into getting a team on track at this time of year?

Walker: It only takes one. That's what we said in Indy. It takes one to catch rhythm and you kind of just build from there, one at a time. You get one, then you get another one and once you hit a rhythm, that's the best part about it. We're not done with the season, so we have time right now to catch a rhythm and get on a little streak. You never know what happens after that. Does it have to be a specific type of win?

Walker: You've just got to get one. No matter how you get it, just get one and then keeping getting more. Normally when you're 5-5, you've got six games until the end. Now, it's seven. Does it get in your head that this is a longer season and you have more time to turn it around?

Walker: Not at all. We just know we have to go now. Just got to go now. We obviously have that extra game, but right now, 1-0 each week and we'll see where we are at the end. How much of a boost was it to get Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah back?

Walker: Definitely love to have him. His energy, his explosiveness on the defense being able to fly around and make plays. He'll only continue to get better. Obviously in his first game back, he was still feeling it out but I think he'll be good to go and back in rhythm this week. What have you liked about the overall rotation of linebackers this year?

Walker: It's everybody being able to go in and operate and execute at a high level. When you've got a room that we have, guys can go in and play multiple positions, come in at any moment and execute. That's what you want. Obviously you've got to thank our coaches for that, putting us in position to be successful and preparing us to be successful. Coach (Jason) Tarver and Coach (Ben) Bloom are putting us in that position each day. No matter what happens, somebody will be able to step up and make a play. I know you take being a leader seriously. Are you talking more right now?

Walker: I always come in with the same behavior on my part. I'm more of a lead-by-example, first guy in the building, staying extra and making sure I'm on my job and my assignment and helping the guys out when they need it. That's all I can do. You've got to lead by example. We're all NFL players. The talking doesn't get the job done anymore. Baker Mayfield said earlier this week there was no need for a "rah rah" speech. Do you agree?

Walker: Definitely. We already know what we've got to do. At this point, just lock in and do our jobs. You're at Week 11 and have yet to have a bye. What kind of challenge has that presented?

Walker: It's the hand we're dealt. We can't sit there and feel sorry for ourselves. We've got to go out and keep playing and keep fighting. That's what this NFL is. We signed up for this. It could be worse. You couldn't have a bye week at all. I think the Thursday game early kind of helped us get a mini bye. Nobody is going to feel sorry for us, so we can't feel sorry for ourselves. It seems like the Lions like to use short passes and let their guys run. How important does that make tackling in this game?

Walker: That's what the NFL has become, put speed in space, athletes in space. That's why the game is what it is. We've got to be great tacklers, we've got to keep a couple on the ball, leverage and we'll be fine. How much have the coaches harped on taking the Lions seriously, especially with how they played in Pittsburgh last week?

Walker: You can't take any team in the NFL lightly. It's Any Given Sunday, for real. We understand that. You look at their record and you'd probably say, 'They're not that good.' But you watch the tape, you watch how they play, you're not going to be surprised they're a good football team. The forecast for Sunday looks to have some legitimate football weather. Does that play to your advantage?

Walker: Just play ball, no matter what the weather is. It's always kind of funny how people say football weather is cold and gloomy and rainy and all that stuff. I'm from the South where we say football weather is 80 degrees. It's fun, though. You enjoy the elements, you enjoy the process. Just go out there and play ball.

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