BEREA, Ohio (AP)Myles Garrett keeps a daily journal, dutifully jotting down notes on life, football and his many outside interests.
The Browns are about to write his name into their record book.
Garrett enters Sunday’s game against the New York Jets needing just two sacks to surpass linebacker Clay Matthews as Cleveland’s career leader. Matthews, who played 16 seasons for the Browns, was credited with 62 sacks, although he had 13 more before the NFL began recognizing them as an official stat in 1982.
The 26-year-old Garrett has a deep reverence for the game’s history, but the All-Pro defensive end isn’t making the record a priority.
He’s focused elsewhere.
”What’s important to me is winning,” Garrett said Friday after emerging from a post-practice sauna session. ”So whether I tie it or I don’t or I break it, whatever it is. I want to be very impactful in the game. I want to be able to be a game changer for my team. But if I don’t break the record, that’s not going to sadden me.”
Garrett might be able to take down Matthews’ mark in Cleveland’s home opener. He sacked former teammate Baker Mayfield twice last week in a win at Carolina, and it took the Panthers throwing double- and triple-teams at Garrett to keep him away from their QB.
On Sunday, Garrett will be matched up against Jets tackle George Fant, who recently switched from the right to the left and had a rough time against Ravens end Justin Houston last week. Now he has to take on Garrett, one of the league’s best edge rushers at the top of his game.
Garrett has Jets coach Robert Saleh’s undivided attention.
”The good Lord was on his `A’ game when he built Myles,” Saleh said Friday. ”He doesn’t have a flaw to his game. He’s big. He’s got everything, and when he turns it on, he’s impossible to block.”
Missing the playoffs last season deeply bothered Garrett, who then re-dedicated himself during the offseason. He immersed himself in studying winners in other sports like Michael Jordan and Tom Brady, and he incorporated plyometric yoga and other non-traditional strength training into his workouts.
He has become more vocal. And, this season, a captain.
Garrett appreciates his place as one of the game’s best current players. However, he’d rather be known as one of its biggest winners.
Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said he and Garrett have spoken about priorities.
”My thing with all of our players is I want them to have individual success and we want them to set records at their position and whatever it is, but team success comes first,” Stefanski said. ”I think Myles understands that. I think he understands this is the ultimate team game.”
Garrett’s aware that Matthews’ sacks record comes with an asterisk. In fact, all sacks are a little fuzzy as Garrett noted that Hall of Famer Deacon Jones, who was credited with coming up with the term ”sack,” claimed to have had 250.
”To me you get all the sacks that you think you get. If he (Matthews) got 70-plus, I feel like I’ll eventually pass that as well,” he said with a smile. ”I don’t know if I’ll get 250, but I’m just going to keep on trying to at least stand on the shoulder of giants.”
NOTES: Browns rookie DT Perrion Winfrey was held out of practice for disciplinary reasons. Stefanski wouldn’t provide any specifics or whether Winfrey will play Sunday. Garrett said the punishment was warranted. ”He’s got to learn how to be a pro, and Kevin took it into his own hands and he felt like that was the right thing to do,” Garrett said. … The Browns are unveiling a new midfield logo with ”Brownie the Elf,” a mascot used by the team in the 1940s and 50s. Garrett was told the team won seven titles with it. ”If we get an eighth championship with that elf, I might come in here with a little elf outfit on,” he joked.
AP Sports Writer Dennis Waszak contributed.
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