BEREA, Ohio — It's no secret that the Cleveland Browns put an emphasis on improving the defense over the course of the offseason, adding big name players and drafting extremely talented prospects in various positions. With the defensive roster nearly unrecognizable from last season, the Browns have talent to work with heading into the regular season.
But for linebacker Anthony Walker Jr., that isn't enough.
"It's good on paper," Walker said. "We've been talking about that, a lot of good names, a lot of talent across the board—but we've got to go out here and put the work in. That's what we're trying to do everyday right now."
Walker, who will be wearing the green dot and calling plays for the defense as teammate John Johnson III said the first week of camp, will play a vital role in the Browns defense this season, taking the reins in a position that was arguably the weakest part of the Browns roster last year.
Having that responsibility each week is something he's more than comfortable doing, despite being in his first year with the Browns.
"At the end of the day, we want the green-dot person to get the communication in on what the call is and then we all go out there and make the right communication," Walker said. "I feel comfortable."
While he has a heightened responsibility, Walker did mention that he thinks his job on the field becomes a little easier with the Browns' new and improved defensive line featuring the bookends of Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney—a duo bound to instill fear in any opposing quarterback while, as Walker described, making the Browns defensive backs' jobs a bit easier.
"I only have four yard of field to cover when they're running the ball because the edge is set over here, the edge is set over there and the quarterback has two seconds to get rid of the ball, so I feel very comfortable with that" Walker said with a smile. "At the end of the day you have to be able to stop the run first, and that's every team that you play against... so whoever's on the field, we've got to be able to stop the run first."
Walker broke down the importance of having guys like Garrett and Clowney available to set the edge, explaining just how easy they can make his job—and seemed very excited about the prospect.
In addition to the veteran free agent signings the Browns made this offseason are the talented rookies taken in and after the 2021 NFL Draft, including cornerback Greg Newsome II, who Walker has been personally mentoring, and linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah.
With position rooms filled with talented young players, Walker, a five-year NFL veteran and still young himself, is ready to let iron sharpen iron as they compete against each other through training camp—many fighting for a starting role on a jam-packed roster.
"A lot of competition. We're pushing each other, we're getting each other better," Walker said. "Guys are playing well. We're going over the film and guys are, as coach is saying, 'night and day better than they were last year." So I think we're all getting better."
Walker, who was sidelined after injuring his knee during Monday's practice session, will be out "a week plus," according to head coach Kevin Stefanski, but even while he's out he's still making an impact, observing practice and remaining vocal with his teammates. As camp continues, Walker will look to get back to work when he's cleared to return and get the revamped roster ready for Sunday game days.
"Like I said, it looks good on paper but this is the time where you come together, you put the work in and on Sundays, you let the work show," Walker said.
Camryn Justice is a digital content producer at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Twitter @camijustice.
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