Jordan Elliott plays a ton, Sione Takitaki gets MIKE reps, and more snap count takeaways from Browns vs. Bengals

The Cleveland Browns are 1-0 for the second straight season after taking down the defending AFC North champion Cincinnati Bengals by a score of 24-3 on Sunday. They now look to get off to a 2-0 start, and a 2-0 start in the division as well, as they are set to take on the banged-up Pittsburgh Steelers on national television on Monday night.

Before we turn the page to Steelers week, however, there is still more to review and analyze from this Week 1 beatdown. There is still all-22 to watch and breakdown, standouts to highlight, and in this article, snap counts to take a deep look at.

Snap counts have since been released for their win over the Bengals, and there are a few things that have caught my eye. Here are four takeaways that stood out from how the Browns used and rotated their personnel during the rainy Sunday affair against their interstate rivals.

Jordan Elliott plays more snaps than Shelby Harris and Maurice Hurst

Browns Bengals Sione Takitaki Jordan Elliott

Exhausting every bit of his nine lives, defensive tackle Jordan Elliott just continues to find the field for the Browns. The good news, however, is that he is on pace for just 400 snaps this season compared to his 700 a year ago.

The interesting thing, however, is that Elliott continues to see more snaps than Shelby Harris and Maurice Hurst despite a lackluster preseason. Harris makes a bit more sense as he has been with the team for just a month, but how Elliott continues to receive starting reps is quite peculiar.

As Harris gets more comfortable, will the Browns begin to start him next to Dalvin Tomlinson? Will Maurice Hurst see more snaps as a rotational player or continue to see the field sparingly? How defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz rotates his defensive linemen will continue to interest me.

Sione Takitaki, Anthony Walker Jr. rotating at MIKE linebacker

Browns Bengals Sione Takitaki Jordan Elliott

Last year, the Browns rotated both Anthony Walker Jr. and Jacob Phillips as their starting MIKE linebackers. When both of them ended up on season-ending injured reserve, the Browns then turned to Sione Takitaki (who was traditionally their SAM linebacker).

They must have liked what they saw from Takitaki at MIKE last year as the Browns rotated him in with Walker Jr. in the middle of their defense next to WILL linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. In base sets, Takitaki will still play SAM with Walker Jr. at MIKE, but in nickel and dime sets, the Browns alternated the two by series.

All-in-all, Walker Jr. played a total of 33 defensive snaps with Takitaki playing 23 from the second level of the Cleveland defense. And they both looked good in this one.

No offensive snaps for Pierre Strong Jr.

Browns Bengals Sione Takitaki Jordan Elliott
Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

Despite an early fumble from Jerome Ford, the Browns stuck with their second-year man out of Cincinnati the rest of the way out. Newly acquired running back Pierre Strong Jr. did not play a single offensive snap in the win over the Bengals.

This could very well have to do with Strong still getting acclimated to the team and to the playbook. Strong, however, did play a healthy amount of special teams, finding the field on 13 snaps in this game.

As the Browns get set to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night, it will be interesting to see if Strong Jr. finds his way into the Cleveland backfield offensively or if they will continue to put their trust in Ford when Nick Chubb is not on the field.

Browns give safety snaps to Ronnie Hickman Jr. over D'Anthony Bell

Browns Bengals Sione Takitaki Jordan Elliott
(Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images)

With Juan Thornhill out in this game, the Browns started Rodney McLeod, who would have been their third safety. And instead of the second-year player D’Anthony Bell, a player who has been in the building longer, the Browns gave McLeod’s typical third safety reps to the undrafted rookie Ronnie Hickman Jr.

All-in-all, Hickman played just 10 defensive snaps. But that’s a great start for an undrafted rookie in his NFL debut.

This is good news for the development of the rookie, especially considering the one-year nature of McLeod’s contract. If Hickman steps up to the plate (yes, I know it’s just one week), then he may just be in line for the third safety role in 2024.

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Story originally appeared on Browns Wire