Myles Garrett will finally get his chance to take down Ben Roethlisberger this weekend when the Browns host the Pittsburgh Steelers in the season opener.
But Cleveland's second-year defensive end and former No. 1 pick said that desire comes from a place of respect. To be the best, you have to beat the best.
"He's a multiple-time Super Bowl champion. He's played on a high level consistently for years. You have to be able to respect greatness when you see it," Garrett said Wednesday. "(You) just have to seize the opportunity to usurp in that position. You have to be able to respect it, but don't be afraid of it – don't be afraid of that moment.
It's a role Garrett welcomes as the new-look Browns hope to make a splash against their divisional rivals. After all, he's expected to be a difference-maker on a defense that, at least on paper, looks like it might be among the league's best.
All that, of course, is easier said than done. While the Browns stand to improve thanks to an overhauled roster following the franchise's first winless season, the Steelers have long been a roadblock both home and away. Pittsburgh has dominated Cleveland with six straight wins while Roethlisberger holds a 22-2 record against his foes in Northeast Ohio, including 11 wins at FirstEnergy Stadium. If the Browns were to win Sunday, it'd be their first victory in a season opener since 2004.
Sunday will also mark Garrett's first duel against Roethlisberger. Then a rookie, he missed the 2017 opener (and three more games) with an ankle injury while the Steelers sat their franchise quarterback in the season finale.
If the preseason is any indication, a healthy Myles Garrett is a scary Myles Garrett. After playing through a nagging ankle injury last year, he flashed legitimates stretches of dominance last month, including a masterful performance against the Eagles in which he dominated Philadelphia's offensive line and battered quarterback Nick Foles. It's what the Browns expect from Garrett now and in years to come.
"When you talk about an edge rusher like Myles," Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said on a conference call, "boy, he has a chance to impact the game and — in particularly — at those critical moments."
Garrett, who spent the offseason nursing himself back to full strength, said he's eager to showcase that hard work. "Going from injured to healthy, that's leaps and bounds. I am able to cut better. I am just better overall," he said. "I am better able to use my strength and able to use my quickness. I am going to be able to put that on display."
Sunday's tilt against the Steelers, of course, should offer a better idea of what Garrett and a talented Browns defense a better idea of where it stands. Pittsburgh boasts a trio of league bests in Roethlisberger, wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le'Veon Bell, who has yet to report to practice.
"I want to be dominant. I know that the D-line wants to do the same things," Garrett said. "We're all on the same page. We have a plan to get there and keep them from dominating the game and to go out there and enact that."
Earlier this summer, Garrett starred in the team's parody of "The Office" as Dwight Schrute, shredding a photo of Roethlisberger while starting into the soul of the camera. He knows he'll have to back that up this weekend.
"I'm here to have a little bit of fun and play some football," he said. "It goes along with what I'm trying to do, so I have no problem doing it."