CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Browns were "hoping against hope" that the results of MRIs on multiple players come back with good news after linebackers Anthony Walker Jr. and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah sustained injuries that took them out of the game Thursday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers—but got a round of bad news as Walker will miss the remainder of the season with a torn quad, a league source confirmed to News 5.
Walker's MRI results returned Friday morning and determined the tear that will require surgery to repair.
Walker was carted off the field Thursday after taking a hit during a play that saw Steelers offensive tackle Chukwuma Okorafor jump on top of the downed linebacker. Walker remained down on the field as trainers rushed out to evaluate him. Within minutes, the linebacker's left leg was in an air cast and he was being helped onto a cart.
After further evaluation, Walker was determined to have a knee strain. That diagnosis unfortunately became more severe upon MRI testing.
Before the results were in, head coach Kevin Stefanski said that the injury looked bad in the game, but they were remaining positive as they awaited the results.
"When you see the attention on the field, obviously it didn't look good, I think that's obvious," Stefanski said. "We're hoping against hope for Anthony. Talked to him last night. He's a huge, huge, huge part of our football team, what he brings to us on the field and off the field. So we'll see what the MRI holds."
The loss is certainly a big one for the team. A veteran leader, Walker had been playing well this season, with four tackles for loss and two passes defended through the three games he was able to play in.
Walker is also the signal caller for the Browns on defense, wearing the green dot while he's on the field. Stefanski said with Walker out, linebacker Jacob Phillips will see a bigger role in that regard.
Phillips has split time with walker wearing the green dot when the down switch on and off the field. Should Walker miss time, the Browns are confident that Phillips will be able to step into that role in a more full-time way.
"So 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 the PBU—you wish you could put 12 guys out there for the defense and we listed him as a started with Anthony early because those guys, I really think they're both capable of starting. With Anthony out likely, Jacob goes in there and we have a ton of confidence in him. If he plays like he played last night I think he can really affect the game."
Owusu-Koramoah also left Thursday's game, limping off the field and heading into the medical tent in clear discomfort. The linebacker came out of the tent and could be seen stretching on the sideline trying to work out what appeared to be a groin injury.
Soon after, Owusu-Koramoah went back to the locker room for further evaluation and was ruled out for the remainder of the game. The injury did in fact end up being a groin injury.
A league source said that MRI results have shown "nothing too concerning" in regards to Owusu-Koramoah's injury, which is an early sign of good news for the Browns linebacker corps following the devastating loss of Walker.
Owusu-Koramoah isn't expected to miss much time with the low level groin strain, and has a chance to be ready for the Browns next matchup against the Falcons on Oct. 2.
Meanwhile, defensive tackle Taven Bryan and safety Ronnie Harrison Jr. both suffered hamstring injuries that will continue to be monitored, as will the knee injury that took offensive lineman Jedrick Wills Jr. out of the game for several plays.
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