BEREA, Ohio -- Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett may be a rookie, but he has made a positive first impression through the first two-plus weeks of training camp and one preseason game.
Veteran defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, a Super Bowl winner with the New Orleans Saints and former head coach of the Buffalo Bills, believes it is Garrett's ability to learn quickly that has allowed him to be an instant contributor with the first-team defense.
“I have never had a chance to draft the first overall pick ever, but I have had some pretty high draft picks,” Williams said. “He is the one that has jumped out and fit in faster than any of the other ones, and I have had some really, really good ones.”
According to Williams, it was other first-team defenders who asked for Garrett to be elevated up the depth chart after seeing what he could do in practice, especially when competing against 10-time Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas.
“One of the things we do is when those guys come in the door, they are dead last on the depth chart,” Williams said. “How do you handle that? How do you handle the locker room? How do you handle the meeting room? How do you handle the field? How do you handle the walk-throughs? How do you handle being humble? How do you handle being respectful?”
Since stepping onto the field, Garrett has been consistently collapsing pockets, getting to quarterbacks and helping bottle up the running game during training camp and the first preseason game, a 20-14 Cleveland win over the Saints last Thursday night.
Garrett’s lone tackle was for lost yardage, and he registered a hit on the quarterback.
“He is a really good young man and a pretty good player, too,” Williams said. “He handled the threes, he handled the twos, he got some spot time on one, and then, when the other players, the veteran players came to me and said, ‘Hey, do you know we are better when he is in there?’ Really? Well, now you are going to own him.
“They just fit in together. He has done well. I thought he played the run very well last week. I thought he was very disruptive on the things that we ask him to do in the pass game. I can tell you this, you go back and watch the film, they were pointing to where he was. The Saints knew where he was.”
In addition to being impactful with productivity that shows up in the box score, Williams believes Garrett has helped make his teammates better, which is something the Browns will need after finishing the 2016 season ranked 30th in points allowed (28.2), as well as 31st in yards (392.4) and rushing yards (142.7) per game.
“Anytime you play with an impactful player or you play with a player that you can trust to do his job, you will be better,” Williams said.
“Lots of times, when you can’t trust the guy playing beside you and you try to overplay, there is where your mistakes come in. We have to trust everybody that is out on the field and that is coverage and rush, rush and coverage, but yes, you can benefit from that because he knows the impact the other guy can make.”
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