CLEVELAND — A lot has changed for Myles Garrett since the last time the Cleveland Browns star defensive end faced the Pittsburgh Steelers.
For one, he became one of the highest-paid players in football, signing a 5-year, $125 million extension this past summer. For another, he's established himself as one of the most dominant players in the sport, tallying six sacks and three forced fumbles while helping lead the Browns to their best start since 1994.
And oh yeah, the No. 1 pick of the 2017 NFL Draft served what was ultimately a six-game suspension for his role in a scuffle between the Browns and Steelers toward the end of their Week 11 matchup last November. On Sunday, Garrett will travel to Pittsburgh's Heinz Field to face the Steelers for the first time since last year's career-altering kerfuffle.
“Myles has addressed it. I feel like it is something that he has definitely put in the past, he has definitely learned from and has grown from," Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski said on Wednesday. "I know the focus for our team and for Myles is on this game, but I trust that he has grown a lot in the last year."
While Garrett may have put the altercation in the past, the reality remains that it will be the focus for many heading into Sunday's Week 6 matchup. That could ring especially in Pittsburgh, where fans may not be as willing to look past the Pro Bowl defensive end striking Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph in the head with his helmet a year ago.
In the aftermath of the incident, Garrett alleged Rudolph called him a racial slur -- an allegation that Rudolph has denied. But regardless of what happened last November, Garrett's teammates have already pledged to stick by the Texas A&M product on Sunday.
"We are always going to have our teammates’ backs," said quarterback Baker Mayfield. "We are worried about the right now, and we are playing the Steelers. We are not worried about what happened last year. We have moved on. Everybody wants to make the story of it, but we are focused on right now.
Added running back Kareem Hunt: "Myles is a great player, a great person and a great teammate. You just learn a lot going through situations like that. You just have to come ready, forget about all that stuff and do whatever you can. This one is for Myles. This one is for Cleveland Browns fans. This one is for a lot of things."