The wait is over.
Myles Garrett, Cleveland's No. 1 pick in the 2017 draft, is set to make his NFL debut Sunday against the Jets. The menacing pass rusher missed the first four games because of a high ankle sprain he suffered in practice.
His return is a welcome one for a Browns defense looking to rebound after surrendering 31 points in the past two games.
ClevelandBrowns.com caught up with Garrett as he wrapped up his preparations for the week in Berea.
CB.com: Run us through the week and the emotions you've been feeling heading into your debut?
Garrett: I'm just trying to keep focused, not really trying to worry too much about the game. I'm just keeping to my routine, studying up on the opponent and just keeping my mind off that. Not letting it stress me. When I get there, don't be part of the moment; live in the moment.
CB.com: What's been the hardest part of the last four weeks?
Garrett: Just not really being of any value. I haven't been able to help much. I've been over there supporting and trying to tell them what I can about what I've seen and how to get off the line or what they're doing to affect them or get them off their game. Now I can actually get in the game and show what I can do, show what I've learned.
CB.com: Gregg Williams said you probably could have played last week but the team opted to be cautious. Why was it important to take a long-term perspective with this injury?
Garrett: If it was my choice, I would have jumped back in Week 2 or Week 3. They know something like this, an injury like this, can happen again. I can tweak it again and be out even longer. They wanted to make sure when it was done, it's over with and we don't have to worry about it later in the season or risk me suffering the same thing because I came back too early.
CB.com: Is that a mental hurdle you have to avoid when you're on the field playing?
Garrett: I'm just going to focus on my assignment. I'm not really trying to focus on the injury because then you're hesitating and not taking the steps you need to get where you need to on the field. I'm just focused on winning each play and winning against your opponent.
CB.com: What was your mindset like during the rehab?
Garrett: Just get as many times in that training room as I can. Get in there two, three times a day, do what they tell you to do and try to do even more, try to do some things when you're at home to quicken your pace of coming back. Whatever you can do to get better and get back on that field, do it.
CB.com: What was the biggest thing you learned from watching from the sidelines?
Garrett: Whether we're down big or down by a little, the fact we were able to rally each time. We tried to make a comeback, we never lost hope and the defense stepped up and the offense was making plays at the end. We're just trying to come back or just show them we're not going to back down for anybody.
CB.com: How have you fit in and meshed so well with your teammates and not felt like a rookie?
Garrett: I just know my assignments. Do that and get where they tell you to be. Once you're in your space or in your gap, don't be a robot. Play on instincts. You're a football player so play with your football instincts. It's not just about having your gap and stay in there. It's about going to get the ball. That's what it's all about on defense. Get the ball and take it away from them. If you can do that and also be where you're supposed to be, that's how you show that you're not just a rookie, but you're also a football player and a good one at that.
CB.com: The pass rush hasn't been up to the level you guys expected through the first four weeks. How much better can this defense be if the pass rush improves?
Garrett: It can be great. Things are holding up in the back end, they're doing their job well. The linebackers are getting there. We're playing the run as well as anybody in the league right now. If we can just get to the passer, we can be something that fans haven't seen for a while, us coming off the edge and making plays.
CB.com: Has seeing the stretches of impressive defense given you optimism that the unit is capable of doing it for a full four quarters?
Garrett: Yes. Second quarters have been good and bad for us. If we can make some adjustments and make sure we do the right thing and don't allow them to capitalize on some of the things we've dropped off on or have missed assignments on, we can be special.
CB.com: What have you heard from your family members about your upcoming debut?
Garrett: They're excited. My parents are going to be there and my sister's going to be there. My brother's going to be watching. He's in Turkey playing basketball but he's going to make sure to tune in and it should be a good show for all of us.