BEREA, Ohio – Browns linebacker Sione Takitaki has good side-to-side speed, and his aggressive play in the middle of the field is his hallmark.
The Browns finished Day 14 of training camp Monday, with a day off coming Tuesday before traveling to Indianapolis for two days of combined workouts with the Colts, followed by Saturday’s preseason game. Monday, Takitaki — who has been known to play at a speed that is sometimes a little more than what is typically desired during practice — displayed his aggressiveness during a drill the linebackers did with the running backs and tight ends.
Takitaki, a rookie out of BYU, was drafted by the Browns in the third round of this year’s draft. He finished his career with the Cougars with 241 tackles, his best season being last year when he had a career-high 119.
As Takitaki learns and improves in training camp, coach Freddie Kitchens wants him to continually work on channeling his aggression.
“I want him to keep his emotions in check, and I don’t want to diminish who he is,” Kitchens said after practice. “Sometimes he gets in situations where he creates penalties for himself because of his emotion. I want to eliminate that first and foremost.”
Though Kitchens wants Takitaki to play under more control, he still covets the rookie’s physicality.
“He’s an aggressive, physical guy, and that’s what we’re looking for,” Kitchens said.
Kitchens said Takitaki can balance his emotions simply by stopping when the whistle blows.
During a 7-on-7 session Monday, the Browns had no contact. Takitaki typically plays middle linebacker with the second and third teams, and on the play below he was defending the middle of the field. As the ball was thrown, Takitaki ran to tag tight end Stephen Carlson, and he stopped when the whistle blew.
Still, like Kitchens alluded to, the high energy Takitaki brings is a significant part of his skill set. Fellow rookie linebacker Mack Wilson said when he first met Takitaki, he noticed his energetic personality.
“We kind of like linked up like really quick,” Wilson said. “I was able to know that I’m gaining another brother. It’s fun hanging around (Takitaki), just what he brings, and the excitement he brings when he’s around you.”
Wilson said he and Takitaki, along with the other young linebackers, have recently been getting more comfortable with the defensive playbook. Wilson said he and Takitaki watch film together and talk about things they can do better in practice.
“We just try to make sure that both of us are on our stuff and make sure that both of us are as crisp as we can be,” Wilson said.