LB Anthony Walker Jr. has been ruled out for the season after suffering a torn quad tendon in Thursday's night game against the Steelers.
Walker, a team captain who wore the green helmet sticker and called plays for the defense, was carted off the field with an air cast around his left leg after he took an awkward hit and fell to the ground.
Head coach Kevin Stefanski extended his thoughts to Walker after the game and highlighted his importance to the whole team as a sixth-year veteran who has been a voice of the locker room and one of the team's biggest on-field leaders.
"It is a huge loss with Anthony Walker if this is a longer-term thing because we know what he brings to the football side of things, but he is a captain and he is a leader," Stefanski said. "We have our fingers crossed and definitely hoping for the best for No. 5."
Walker will be replaced by Jacob Phillips, who helped the defense create two of their biggest stops in the 29-17 win over Pittsburgh. Phillips sacked QB Mitch Trubisky on a third-down play in the fourth quarter to force a three-and-out and made a diving pass breakup on a third-down play on the next drive to force another fourth down.
Phillips led the defense in the game with seven tackles and was the only player to record a sack.
"I thought he was outstanding," Stefanski said. "The two plays he made late in the game with the blitz and the sack and then the PBU were outstanding. I was proud of Jacob because you wish you could put 12 guys out there for the defense. We listed him as a starter with Anthony early because those guys, I really think they are both capable of starting.
"Now with Anthony out, Jacob goes in there, and we have a ton of confidence in him."
Stefanski said Phillips will also take over the play-relaying duties with the defense.
"Jacob would be our green dot moving forward," Stefanski said. "He does a nice job of communicating."
Check out photos of the Browns against the Steelers in Week 3