BEREA, Ohio -- Sometimes, it can take rookies a long while to earn the respect of veterans in the National Football League.
However, it took first-year Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett just a week of training-camp practices to earn the respect of the most-tenured player in the locker room, 10-time Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas.
“He is doing an amazing job,” Thomas said after a recent practice. “I can easily see when he is out there the reasons why you make him the No. 1 pick.
“He has an athleticism and ability to bend and run that few players in the NFL have. The way he works at it, the way that he analyzes his game after every practice and the way he studies, it is easy to understand why he was the consensus No. 1 pick.”
In 34 games over his three years at Texas A&M, Garrett registered 141 total tackles, including 81 solo stops and 60 assists, with 31.0 quarterback sacks, seven forced fumbles, one recovery, five passes defended and one interception.
After having 11 and 11.5 sacks in each of his first two years at Texas A&M, Garrett registered 8.5 sacks during the 2016 season despite playing much of the year with a high ankle sprain.
In a career-low 10 games because of the lower-body injury, Garrett saw significant dips in productivity as it relates to tackles (33), solo stops (18) and assists (15), as well as forced fumbles (two) from the previous season, but still registered 15 tackles for lost yardage.
And those bursts of speed and strength Garrett showed at Texas A&M have led to positive results throughout the Browns’ first eight practices of training camp, as he has consistently wreaked havoc in the backfield, even while competing against Thomas.
“He is pretty fast,” Thomas said. “It will be fun to see him out there in a game situation when the live bullets are flying. I think he is going to do a good job.
“There is one thing that you can’t teach, and that is speed. As an edge rusher, if you have speed, you can make things difficult for a tackle or quarterback because that is one area that you can’t teach. You can teach pass-rushing moves, but if you have a guy that is just fast, it makes a tackle’s life difficult the whole game.”
Although Thomas and Garrett have not yet had much one-on-one work in full-team drills, the elder statesman of the Browns’ locker room will do what he can to help the rookie develop into the kind of difference-making edge rusher that the front office and coaching staff expected when they selected him with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
“I think that I have got enough experience under my belt that I can give him a few tips,” Thomas said. “Now, nothing will replace his coach, but from my perspective, I can let him know what is hard on a tackle and what makes my job difficult when he does certain things.
“It has been fun because he has been very receptive to coaching. He is extremely bright. He is great at understanding the points that you are trying to give him. I am excited to watch him out there in the first preseason game and see what happens.”
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