BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Myles Garrett won’t be satisfied with just sacks or de-cleating a running back.
For his first NFL exhibition, Cleveland’s rookie wants to make sure the New Orleans Saints remember him — and that the rest of the league takes notice.
“They don’t have much film to go off of, at least not of me now, and they don’t know what I have to offer,” Garrett said Tuesday. “So I’m looking forward to sending a message through this first game.”
Garrett, who has more than lived up to expectations in his first training camp, will make his preseason debut on Thursday night when the Browns host the Saints at FirstEnergy Stadium. The former Texas A&M star and No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft is eager to showcase his speed, power and new pass-rush moves he’s been trying out on Cleveland offensive linemen eager to see him abuse someone new.
Soft-spoken yet dead-serious, Garrett wants to make a mark.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s preseason or a scrimmage,” the defensive end said. “I want to display a dominance when I’m on the field, so I’m trying to have a dominant performance, whether it’s preseason first series or whenever I get out there.”
He’ll be out there with Cleveland’s starting defense. After beginning camp deep on the depth chart, Garrett has worked his way into the lineup with steady, solid performances. He has shown a willingness to put in extra work, staying on the field after practice to run 100-yard sprints to build his stamina.
It’s been something to see, and now the Saints will be the first team to get a close-up look at the 6-foot-4, 272-pounder.
Garrett has enthralled Browns fans and even wowed Hall of Famer Bruce Smith, the league’s career sacks leader, who stopped by camp for a visit last week. He has won over 10-time Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas, who was beaten badly by Garrett last week while protecting quarterback Cody Kessler.
The only thing Garrett hasn’t been able to do is hit a QB, but that will change against the Saints.
“It’s kind of a relief,” said Garrett, who was credited with two sacks in last week’s scrimmage. “It’s really harder to avoid hitting him than it is to actually wrap him up and take him down. Now that I can follow through, I can actually show that I’m getting there and I’m making big plays.”
But while he’s targeting QBs, Garrett has also expressed respect for players he has grown up admiring.
Drew Brees may or may not play in Garrett’s debut, but the former Aggie standout will face Ben Roethlisberger in the season opener and QB stars Andrew Luck, Aaron Rodgers and Philip Rivers are on Cleveland’s schedule.
Garrett already admires them, and now it’s time to attack them.
“You’ve spent most of your life looking up to those guys and watching them play, watching them make big plays, not only in the regular season but in the playoffs and Super Bowls,” Garrett said. “But now, idolizing them is over. It’s time to show that you’re in their class and you can play with the big boys.”