The Cleveland Browns announced on Wednesday they were placing linebacker Sione Takitaki on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. The facility was shut down earlier in the day when they announced a positive test while they went through contact tracing protocols, so they could open the facility later in the day. The team practiced with fewer players and spaced out on the field.
Takitaki is coming off arguably the best game of his career against the Philadelphia Eagles where he was able to make a number of stops against the run and capped it off catching a tipped Carson Wentz pass and returned it for a touchdown.
The linebacker position for the Browns has struggled much of this year and this leaves them further shorthanded. Takitaki fills a role as largely a run stopping player with his size, strength and ability to function near the line of scrimmage.
B.J. Goodson is the team's other primary run stopper. Without Takitaki, the team will probably need more reps from players which could include rookie Jacob Phillips and Tae Davis.
The Browns are already down defensive end Myles Garrett and Joe Jackson due to COVID-19 and corner Denzel Ward due to injury. This further puts strain on a defense that has had issues all season long.
If Takitaki was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list due to a positive test, it not only rules him out against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but jeopardizes his ability for the Tennessee Titans the following week. That could be a real problem for the Browns in trying to stop running back Derrick Henry.