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Browns Mailbag: Could the Browns use JOK, Walker and Phillips at the same time?

Staff writer Anthony Poisal answers your questions every week

070122_Mailbag

Let's talk about a position that NO ONE is talking about, Linebacker. I was a HUGE fan of the Jacob Phillips pick in 2020, and still am. If he can stay healthy, I'm predicting a MONSTER season from him. Any chance of him, Anthony Walker and JOK being on the field at the same time? We all know Joe Woods likes to play 5-6 DB's. Also, how's our depth? I like Takitaki, he plays all out, but who else can step in when an inevitable injury occurs? Thanks for considering my question, can't wait till July 30th!! - Joe Basso, Las Vegas

There's certainly a chance all three of them could be on the field now that Phillips, who only played four games last season, is healthy. You're right in pointing out that Woods loves his dime and nickel sets, but he also loves having a versatile defense, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see him use those three linebackers simultaneously.

Walker led the Browns with 113 tackles last season, so we know what he's capable of bringing, but it should be exciting to see what Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Phillips can both do in their second and third years, respectively. Owusu-Koramoah's speed makes him so fun to watch at any linebacker position, and Phillips certainly has potential the Browns would've liked to see last year had it not been for his biceps injury. He took some snaps during the offseason program at the MIKE (middle) position, so it'll be interesting to see how the Browns divvy up those snaps at that particular spot between him and Walker in training camp.

Specifically on Walker and Phillips, Woods said both could play at the MIKE and WILL (weakside) positions. We'll likely see him use several combinations at linebacker throughout the season.

We'll address the depth part of your question in the next question below…

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How did Tony Fields perform in the practices? I haven't heard any updates about him and am wondering if they brought in Dakota Allen to compete with him. - Bob Ruple, Novelty, Ohio

It's probably not fair to put an evaluation on any linebacker from the offseason program since all practices are without pads, but for Fields, a 2021 fifth-round pick, the program was definitely productive from the sheer fact that he was healthy.

Fields battled a foot injury last year that kept him out of most of the offseason workouts and training camp, which were all valuable reps for a rookie to miss. He exclusively played on special teams last year and will still need to earn his roster spot in training camp. His competition includes Allen, who was recently signed, as well as Willie Harvey Jr. and Silas Kelly, an undrafted rookie.

Will the Browns utilize their tight ends more this season since Njoku and Bryant offer more big play opportunities? - Rob McCoy, Fairmont WV

That's a question that will be one of top things to watch for in training camp.

The Browns led the league in 13-personnel (1 RB, 3 TEs) the last two seasons since Kevin Stefanski became head coach, using the grouping on 14 percent of plays in 2020 and 17 percent in 2021, according to Sharp Football Analysis. Austin Hooper is no longer on the team, so that number could change significantly next season.

If so, Njoku and Bryant could both see higher snap totals than previous seasons. Njoku played around 65 percent of snaps last season, and Bryant was around 40 percent.

Njoku’s big contract extension suggests he'll be even more used as a key offensive weapon, and Bryant, a 2020 fourth-round pick, now has two years of experience and could be ready for a bigger role.

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