The Cleveland Browns are reportedly placing starting linebacker Anthony Walker on injured reserve.
Walker, one of the team’s key offseason signings and the signal-caller on the defense, suffered a hamstring in practice and will now miss at least three weeks, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Browns are placing starting LB Anthony Walker on IR with a hamstring strain, per source. Walker should be back in three weeks.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 17, 2021
Per the NFL’s rules, Walker has to miss a minimum of three weeks before he will be eligible to return from the injured reserve list, which puts him out for the games against the Houston Texans, Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings.
But as we’ve seen in the past, hamstring injuries are more than just the minor inconvenience that many fans believe them to be.
According to a 2018 story from ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, there are three types of hamstring injuries that players deal with — simple pull, partial tear and complete tear. The Browns have not gone into detail Walker’s injury, there is no reason to believe that it is anything other than a simple hamstring pull.
But that does not mean all the news is good.
In his story, Fowler referenced a 2011 study for the U.S. National Library of Medicine conducted by several doctors that found that players missed an average of 2.6 games whenever they suffered a hamstring injury. And if a player tries to rush back, they run the risk of making the injury worse.
In 2019, cornerbacks Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams both missed four games with hamstring injuries. It was the same situation in 2018 with linebacker Joe Schobert, who missed four games with a hamstring injury.
So while the minimum stay on injured reserve is three weeks, it could actually be four weeks before Walker is back to good health, which could push his return to the October 17 game against the Arizona Cardinals.
With Walker out, defensive coordinator Joe Woods will have to find another player to take over the playcalling duties on the field. The most likely candidate might be safety John Johnson III, who called the plays last season for the Los Angeles Rams.
In related news, the Browns will reportedly host linebacker Reuben Foster for a tryout on Friday, according to ESPN’s Kimberley A. Martin.
The #Browns are working out Reuben Foster tomorrow, I’m told— Kimberley A. Martin (@ByKimberleyA) September 16, 2021
Foster was a first-round selection in the 2017 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers. He played 10 games for the 49ers in 2017 and six games in 2018 before being cut following two arrests on domestic violence charges, which were later dropped and dismissed.
Washington picked up Foster for the 2019 season, but he suffered a torn ACL during Organized Team Activities and spent both the 2019 and 2020 seasons on injured reserve.
Foster also served a two-game suspension in 2018 for violating the league’s personal conduct and substance abuse policies. (Learn more about Foster’s career in this article at al.com.)
If the Browns like what they see from Foster, he could be a candidate for the practice squad while the team sorts out its short-term situation at linebacker.