When Myles Garrett slides on a Browns uniform for the first time since completing a season-ending six-game suspension last season, he'll be playing under the guidance of a new defensive coordinator ready to help him be his best self.
Joe Woods, hired as Cleveland's new defensive coordinator in February, is ready to help Garrett put that Week 11 night far behind him. He believes Garrett took all the right steps to earn reinstatement, which was granted for him in February, and is ready to return as one of the elite pass rushers in the NFL.
"Right now, I think he's in a good place," Woods said Thursday in a video call with local reporters. "I think as a young player in this league, you go through a lot of different things, so I definitely think he's going to learn and grow from the situation that happened last year."
Garrett was chasing a career-best season before the incident. He was well on his way to his second Pro Bowl appearance and had already forced two fumbles and amassed 10 sacks, just short of his career-high mark of 13.5 sacks set as a rookie. His 30.5 sacks through three seasons are the most ever by a Browns player during the first three years of their career.
Following his reinstatement, Garrett traveled to Tanzania for a humanitarian trip as a player captain of the Waterboys program of the Chris Long Foundation, which works to provide clean water to communities in need in East Africa.
"He is focused on being a good teammate," Woods said. "He has been in the meetings. He is trying to step up and take more of a leadership role. I definitely think he is moving in the right direction and has the right mindset."
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Woods hopes Garrett, who's only 24 years old, will replicate the same production from last season. The Browns added defensive end depth with the signing of Adrian Clayborn, a 10-year veteran, to pair with Garrett and Olivier Vernon, who missed six games last season with a knee injury.
"You have a bunch of Alpha dogs out there, and they all want to be the guy," Woods said. "If you all work together, everybody is going to eat. That is what you want. I think once the guys realize what we are going to do within our scheme and how coach (defensive line coach Chris) Kiffin is teaching them, they are all going to have an opportunity to make plays."
The group, of course, is headlined by Garrett, who has a rare on-field presence that elevates the play of everyone on the defensive line.
With Garrett's reinsertion to the lineup, Woods believes Cleveland's defensive front will be in good shape to pester opposing backfields again in 2020.
"I think Myles has the right mindset in terms of wanting to be MVP," Woods said. "We just need him to be the best player for us that he can be, and whatever happens, happens."