Anthony Walker's promising 2022 season is over after just three games.
The Browns linebacker suffered a season-ending torn quadriceps tendon in Thursday's 29-17 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported. The injury will require surgery to repair it, forcing him to miss the remainder of the 2022 campaign. The team later announced the news and placed Walker on injured reserve.
Walker suffered the injury during the second half of the Thursday night game and was carted off. Jacob Phillips replaced him at linebacker for the remainder of the game.
Walker was off to a hot start in 2022, logging four tackles for loss in his first three games of the season. The defensive leader for the Browns was even better in pass coverage, earning a coverage grade of 90 from Pro Football Focus.
Phillips shined in Walker's place, sacking quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and making a key play on a Trubisky pass late in the game, recording his first pass defense when he broke up a third-down throw intended for tight end Pat Freiermuth, forcing the Steelers to settle for a field goal with 1:51 remaining in the contest.
Before the team was aware of the severity of Walker's injury, Browns coach Kevin Stefanski saw a silver lining, thanks to Phillips' performance.
"It does give me the opportunity to talk about Jacob and how he played last night, which I thought he was outstanding," Stefanski said Friday. "Jacob would be our green dot moving forward. He does a nice job of communicating. The two plays he made late in the game with the blitz and the sack and then the PBU (pass break-up) 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 likely, Jacob goes in there, and we have a ton of confidence in him. He plays like he plays last night, I think he can really affect the game."
The job will be Phillips' for the remainder of the season. As the "green dot," he'll take over as defensive quarterback for the Browns, relaying the play calls received from coordinator Joe Woods.