Myles Garrett needed less than a second to think Tuesday when he was asked which Browns player he'd pick to have a breakout season.
"Jordan Elliott," Garrett said. "He's come in 20 pounds bigger of mostly muscle. He's probably the most explosive I've seen him since he's been here. He's so comfortable in this defense now."
Elliott, a 2020 third-round pick, has joined Taven Bryan on first-team reps since the spring and is set to open the season as a starter for the first time in his career. Based on Garrett's sentiments, he should be plenty prepared for that role.
Browns coaches have echoed what Garrett said throughout the offseason — Elliott has taken the opportunity to start with sincerity. They needed him to after they moved on from Malik Jackson and Malik McDowell, the two DT starters last year, and believed he could step into the role after taking a couple years to develop.
Even though he only has four starts in his two years in the league, he's shown throughout training camp that he's capable of the full-time gig.
"We've talked about Jordan quite a bit," head coach Kevin Stefanski said. "It goes back to the spring. I think he committed himself to physically getting bigger and stronger and being a pro at this, and he has done it. He is a young man who I think is maturing, and his game has come along."
Defensive line coach Chris Kiffin lauded Elliott at the beginning of training camp for what he showed in the spring — he believed Elliott is stronger, smarter and more comfortable going up against NFL-caliber offensive linemen each play.
He just needs to showcase that more during a live game, and he'll have more chances than ever to do that in 2022.
"I think he knows it's time for him to make an impact in this defense," Kiffin said. "He's put in the work to do that. We have confidence in that right now, and time will tell, he's going to have to do that in games."
Everything Garrett has seen from him in training camp has led him to believe Elliott will live up to those expectations.
"I think he's in a good state of mind," he said. "All signs are pointing toward him having a very successful year."
Check out photos of players and coaches working to prepare for the teams final preseason game against the Chicago Bears Saturday
Bojorquez wins punt battle
The Browns officially made Corey Bojorquez their punter Tuesday after waiving Joseph Charlton.
Bojorquez showcased his strong left leg throughout training camp and certainly looks like a kicker who led the league with the two longest punts the last two seasons — a 72-yarder in 2020 and an 82-yarder in 2021. He averaged 59 yards on two punts in the first preseason game against Jacksonville and had his lone punt attempt, a 45-yarder, go for a touchback Sunday against the Eagles.
He's averaged a respectable 45.4 yarder per punt over four NFL seasons and should give the Browns plenty of leg power.
"You want your punter to be a weapon," Stefanski said. "Corey is somebody who we were excited about when we went out and got him to be able to use him in some plus-50 situations, especially pin a defense down. We almost had an opportunity to do that in the last game. Then that ability to hold and that battery between (LS) Charley (Hughlett), Corey and (K) Cade (York) is important."
Newsome, Thomas expected back soon
Stefanski said the Browns are expecting to have both CB Greg Newsome II (hamstring) and seventh-round rookie DE Isaiah Thomas back soon.
Thomas, who left the team to celebrate the birth of his daughter, Aubri, in his hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma, will rejoin the team Wednesday. He had also spent the previous week recovering from a hand injury but is expected to be back in practice when he returns. He missed the second preseason game because of the injury but recorded two sacks in the first preseason game against Jacksonville.
Newsome has been sidelined since Aug. 14 with his injury, and Stefanski said he is "getting close" to a return.