Browns LB Sione Takitaki out for season with torn ACL
Cleveland loses third linebacker to season ending injury this year
CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The Cleveland Browns linebackers room at the teams headquarters in Berea is a little smaller following Sunday’s 27-14 victory over the Houston Texans.
Head coach Kevin Stefanski announced that Sione Takitaki suffered a torn ACL and is lost for the season.
The injury happened on a punt return in the 4th quarter with 5:43 remaining.
Takitaki was second on the team in total tackles with 71 along with a sack and a forced fumble in 2022.
Takitaki moved to the ‘MIKE’ linebacker spot after the Browns lost fellow linebackers Anthony Walker and Jacob Phillips to season-ending injuries earlier in the year.
“Disappointed for Tak. Playing at a really, really high level for us and playing a lot for us,” Stefanski said. “Just disappointed for the young man. We will work through all of those things. We have guys who have played MIKE linebacker for us right now so we have guys certainly who can do it. Andrew obviously always works through those things with his staff. We believe in the guys that we have, and they have to step up. Big shoes to fill, and that is part of the game.”
“It is disappointing every time we hear of one of our teammates who we have gone through much energy, much effort and many hours and many minutes with going down. Sione is a high-energy guy, no matter what occurs and no matter what happens,” linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah said. “I am sure you will continue to see him around the facility and continue to see him around the linebacker room and energetic on the sidelines, if they allow him to, being involved continuously helping us out with our calls and fits and everything. It is disappointing, but we have to play the cards that have been dealt to us.”
Owusu-Koramoah and Deion Jones will need to step and lead a young and short-handed linebacking core for the final five games of the 2022 season.
“Certainly, Deion has played for us and played at a high level at that position,” Stefanski said. “We have had (LB) Jordan Kunaszyk in there. We have options. We have guys who are going to be moving around potentially. We will make sure that we have a good plan going into this one.”
Tony Fields will also see more opportunities at linebacker. Fields scored the second of the Browns two defensive touchdowns in Sunday’s win in Houston.
“Again, when you lose a player, everybody has to step up,” Stefanski said. “Certainly, guys earn roles and carve out roles, and those are the type of things that we will look at and talk about the next couple of days.”
“I knew when me and Tone came in that he was going to be a guy who took off at some point by just the way that he played in college,” Owusu-Koramoah said. “I thought he played pretty similar to me on his tape with his aggression and his ability to get from Point A to Point B and just being instinctive. He has shown that the last two games and really all season on special teams doing his thing. I am looking forward to seeing what comes out of that. I really am.”
Takitaki is in the final year of his contract. He is scheduled to be a free agent in March.
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