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Rookie linebacker Mack Wilson predicts 2 picks, then goes and gets them

CLEVELAND — Mack Wilson wasn’t satisfied.

The rookie linebacker had opened his NFL preseason career with a 40-yard interception return for a touchdown but wanted more. Actually, he expected more.

“It’s crazy. It’s unbelievable. I can’t really put it into words,” Wilson said Thursday night after the Browns’ 30-10 win over Washington at FirstEnergy Stadium. “Me and Taki were just sitting in the room last night, looking over the plays as usual and I was like, ‘Taki, I’m going to catch two interceptions tomorrow. I’m gonna crib one and I might just catch one.’

“After I said that, I woke up this morning, I prayed about it. Before the game I prayed about it. Caught one first half, halftime I prayed that I was going to catch another one and it happened, so I give all the glory to God.”


Wilson was drafted in the fifth round out of Alabama. Sione Takitaki was taken two rounds earlier out of BYU.

They could become the future of the linebacker position for the Browns, and already are hotel roommates, close friends and experts at speaking interceptions into existence.

“He’s a confident kid,” Takitaki said. “Last night we were watching film, seeing when they got into bunch sets, he said, ‘I’m telling you I’m going to get a pick, I’m going to get a pick-six.’ I’m like, ‘OK, OK,’ and today he makes it happen.”

Offense starts fast, even without Odell Beckham Jr., as Browns beat Washington 30-10

The first interception shouldn’t have been a surprise. Wilson (6-foot-1, 233 pounds) entered the game with a pick in three of the last four practices.

Washington rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr., the No. 15 pick out of Ohio State, misfired on an attempt for running back Byron Marshall and Wilson plucked it out of the air. He quickly channeled his background as a receiver and running back, dashing down the sideline, stiff-arming Haskins and diving into the end zone.

He had no doubt he was going to score.

“Oh, no, I caught the ball, I’m gone, I’m going to the crib with this one,” he said. “Before I even went on the field, me, Christian Kirksey and Taki were talking like this is just practice, just like practice. Don’t overthink too much. Don’t get any anxiety.

“We just went out and executed and when I caught the ball I definitely was thinking going to the crib.”

The ball was sitting in his locker, headed for his man cave. He doesn’t have a souvenir from the second pick because he threw it somewhere in celebration.

No. 2 came in the fourth quarter off Josh Woodrum, and was beautiful in its own way.

Wilson dropped in coverage down the middle, read Woodrum’s eyes, leaped and brought the ball in with his fingertips.

“Everywhere he looked I was kind of going and he threw the ball and I just jumped and got it,” said Wilson, who had six interceptions over his final two years at Alabama. “I do think I have a nose for the ball. It’s hard to explain, it’s just something I have, I guess.”

Coach Freddie Kitchens attributes Wilson’s string of turnovers to persevering through a tough start to camp.

“Before you know it, he starts making plays, he is in better positions and his eyes are in better places,” Kitchens said. “He is getting other guys lined up. His communication is starting to get better with that group.

“Once you know how to get there and where to get there, the rest is just making plays.”

“Every day there’s little stuff that he’s nitpicking and getting better at,” Takitaki said. “The simple answer, he’s really good in space, that’s why they got him at the Will (weakside spot) covering all those tight ends, running backs.”

Wilson’s debut was certainly impressive, but even after the two interceptions he wasn’t satisfied.

“I had a good game, but it’s all about being consistent,” he said. “My mindset is to go back to work tomorrow, continue to keep that chip on my shoulder until we win a Super Bowl.”

Browns writer for The Chronicle-Telegram and The Medina Gazette. Proud graduate of Northwestern University. Husband and stepdad. Avid golfer who needs to hit the range to get down to a single-digit handicap. Right about Johnny Manziel, wrong about Brandon Weeden. Contact Scott at 440-329-7253, or email and follow him on and Twitter.


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