Myles Garrett is itching to make another game-changing play — the kind that was at the center of a number of the Browns' biggest wins during the regular season.
The Pro Bowl pass rusher knows there'd be no better time for one — or a handful — than Sunday, when the Browns take on the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Divisional Round.
"This should be the game to do it," Garrett said. "One of the best teams in the league, if not the best team in the league, but they have to go in there and they have to prove it, and we have to prove that we can battle with anybody."
Garrett, who drew constant double- and even triple-teams in last week's Wild Card win over the Steelers, came away without a sack against the Steelers but his impact was incalculable. He was the driving force on a defense that forced five turnovers, including four interceptions, some of which were the direct result of pressure directed at veteran QB Ben Roethlisberger.
The challenge goes up another level Sunday against Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes, the NFL's MVP in 2018 who is the leader of the NFL's No. 1 passing attack.
"He is kind of regarded as the face of the league right now," Garrett said. "He goes right up there with (Rams DT) Aaron Donald as the two faces that people see as the best on offense and defense. I want him to be able to go home when he has his kid or kids and tell them that he went against Myles Garrett.
"It is not just me versus him – it is the Browns versus the Chiefs – but individually, I like to leave an impression on everybody I go against."
It's hard to find anyone on the Browns' roster who has relished the team's "us against the world" mentality more than Garrett, who hasn't been surprised at all to see the Browns viewed as an underdog for a second straight week. The NFL, he said, is a week-by-week business, even in the playoffs.
"We just have to clock in and show what we are worth every time we are asked to," Garrett said. "Every time those lights are on and we are on the field, we have to show that we are a great team. Here is another opportunity to show that.
"We're here. We might as well be great."
On top of Friday's activation of Pro Bowl G Joel Bitonio, the Browns also had three assistant coaches return from COVID-19 protocols.
TEs coach Drew Petzing, pass game coordinator/defensive backs coach Jeff Howard and assistant offensive line coach Scott Peters were all cleared to return to the facility and coach in Sunday's game. The Browns currently have no players or coaches sidelined by COVID-19.
"First and foremost, you concern yourself with everybody's health and well-being. Anytime somebody is back in the building, it means that they are healthy enough to be back in the building," Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said. "Obviously, I want to get everybody back here as quickly as possible but as safe as possible."
Assessing the 2021 Class
EVP of Football Operations and General Manager Andrew Berry's first draft class has been tasked with filling major roles and stepping up in times of need. Cleveland's seven-man class — which essentially became six when second-round S Grant Delpit was lost for the season in training camp — was one of its smallest in years, but its collective impact has been one of the biggest.
First-round T Jedrick Wills Jr. has started all but one game. Third-round LB Jacob Phillips has emerged as a starter during the second half of the season. Fourth-round TE Harrison Bryant has been a mainstay in the offense since Week 1. Sixth-round WR Donovan Peoples-Jones has taken on major roles on special teams and as a third wide receiver. Fifth-round G Nick Harris provided a huge lift for the Browns in their win over the Giants and third-round DT Jordan Elliott has been a key rotational player all season long.
"All of those guys have been contributors at points during the year," Berry said. "It is still too early to call and truly assess really any rookie class. We do say that it usually takes three years, but the early returns certainly have been positive. Those guys have worked hard. They have responded when their numbers have been called. It is good to see the guys be prepared in a year where it is not as typical for rookie players across the league. Still a lot of work to do with that young group, and I know they continue to be hungry and they continue to work hard.
"We are looking forward to seeing them continue to improve as they are with us over the next few years."
Check out exclusive photos of the Browns preparing for their AFC divisional round matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs