One of the Cleveland Browns' most prominent position battles has come to an end -- albeit on unfortunate terms.
Browns head coach Hue Jackson announced on Tuesday that Tank Carder will miss the entirety of the 2017 season after suffering a torn ACL in Cleveland's 10-6 preseason victory over the New York Giants on Monday night. As a result, Joe Schobert will serve as the team's No. 1 middle linebacker, a role he had been competing with Carder for throughout training camp.
Fortunately for the Browns, Schobert has been performing well throughout the preseason. Against New York, the second-year player out of Wisconsin tallied a team-high 6 tackles, 1 sack and a pass deflection for a Browns' defense that turned in a strong performance for the second straight time this preseason.
“I thought Joe is really improved and has done a great job. He has had a tremendous training camp and first two preseason games," Jackson said on Tuesday. "He is very smart, understands the system and what we are trying to implement from the MIKE linebacker position. Having him obviously has been great and it is a real luxury when you lose somebody like Tank. I think Joe will fit the bill and do what is necessary to play the position and play it well.”
After having spent the majority of his first five seasons with Cleveland playing on special teams, Carder entered this preseason sitting atop the depth chart at middle linebacker. The TCU product tallied just 5 tackles a season ago despite appearing in all 16 games.
But regardless of whether or not he would have entered the season as a starter or backup had he remained healthy, the loss of Carder provides a blow to a Browns linebacker corps that was already lacking in depth prior to his injury.
Cleveland will return to the field on Saturday for its third preseason game, a "dress rehearsal" for the regular season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.