In an offseason where the Browns have made a slew of acquisitions, none may be more important than Myles Garrett. Cleveland selected the game-changing pass rusher with the No. 1 overall pick of the 2017 NFL draft but may have to start the season without his services. On Wednesday, the powerful edge-rusher was forced out of practice after sustaining an ankle injury.
On Thursday morning, it was reported that Garrett has a high ankle sprain and will miss several weeks.
Cleveland opens its season Sunday with a showdown against division rival Pittsburgh.
What does this mean for Garrett? Garrett was considered a surefire No. 1 pick and had backed up that hype with some solid play this preseason. Despite playing limited snaps, he still found a way to crash into NFL backfields and even earned a sack as he fine-tuned his game. Now, instead of sharpening his skills against NFL offensive tackles, he faces an extended rehab process.
Missing Sunday’s game against the Steelers also means one of his early hopes for NFL success will have to wait. He made Roethlisberger the dream target for his first sack as a professional and hasn’t backed away from that:
#Browns Garrett on saying he wants to take Big Ben down: "I stand by it. You shouldn't be afraid to" call your shots— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) September 6, 2017
Fortunately for Garrett, his place in the starting lineup will likely be waiting for him once he’s healthy enough to take the field.
What does this mean for the Browns? The Browns were an 8.5-point underdog even before Garrett’s injury. Losing him would ease the pressure on Roethlisberger, a quarterback who owns a 21-2 record in his career against Cleveland.
With an injury serious enough to keep Garrett out for an extended period, it could be a blessing in disguise for the franchise. The Browns made major efforts to improve their roster after last season’s 1-15 campaign left them in the league basement. While the 2017 team is younger, stronger, and more athletic than last year’s version, Cleveland is almost certainly still a year or more away from contention. Losing an impact rookie like Garrett will negatively affect the club’s ability to win games — but with a lost season potentially on the horizon, rising a few rungs on the 2018 NFL draft ladder won’t hurt.