Adarius Taylor’s ankle injury could put the Browns’ rookie linebackers one step closer to the field.
Taylor, who is listed as Cleveland’s starting SAM linebacker, hasn’t practiced this week because of a high ankle sprain. Though Taylor played just three snaps in the season opener, an opportunity could be available Monday for the likes of rookie linebackers Mack Wilson and Sione Takitaki.
Takitaki, who missed a large chunk of the preseason with a hamstring injury, was inactive in Sunday’s opener but is no longer considered injured, Browns coach Freddie Kitchens said. Wilson did not see the field on defense but was active on special teams.
“I think will be in the position to be able to step up in that room,” Wilks said. “Joe as well as Kirko have been playing outstanding. I am real pleased with where the linebackers are. We got to find ways right here to create takeaways on the defensive side of the ball. That was really the difference in the game last week. When you look at we did not take the ball away and they did."
Check out photos from today's practice by team photographer Matt Starkey
Hilliard suffered a concussion during last week’s loss to the Titans and has yet to practice. Browns special teams coordinator Mike Priefer liked what he saw from Johnson on his 23-yard return late in the action against the Titans.
“He has done a good job for us,” Priefer said. “He only got out to about the 25 but he was one block away from making a much bigger play. It was pretty well-blocked, we just got to finish and that is going to be the emphasis today when we talk about kickoff returns.”
Pro Bowl wide receiver Jarvis Landry remains an option on punt returns after filling in for Hilliard on Sunday.
“A guy like Jarvis, he is such a team guy,” Priefer said. “He is the one that came up to me and says, ‘I am ready to go if you need me.’ Then, we put him in there. He is a guy, you know he is going to catch the ball. You know he is going to get what he can get. He is going to make good decisions back there.”
-- Priefer was delighted to see Josh Cribbs among the 122 modern era nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s 2020 class. Cribbs was one of just eight first-year eligible players to make the list.
Cribbs, who starred for the Browns from 2005-2012, holds 11 Browns return records and is tied for first in NFL history with 8 kickoff return touchdowns.
“I hope he gets a bunch of votes, I hope he gets in because he did some great things and I know we coached against him and he was not a fun man to coach against,” Priefer said. “He is one of those guys, he was not going down easy. He may not have been the fastest but he was going to be the toughest and the strongest, and he was going to hit the scene full speed and you are going to have to have a lot of people around him to get him down.”