BEREA — The long-awaited debut of No. 1 pick Myles Garrett will likely have to wait one more week.
As will the big boost he’s expected to bring to the pass rush.
Garrett, the rookie defensive end, practiced in a limited role for the second straight day Friday and was listed as questionable on the official injury report.
But the Browns are expected to hold him out Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals and not rush him back from the high right ankle sprain suffered Sept. 6 in practice.
“He moved around well, did some things today,” coach Hue Jackson said. “We’re going to huddle with the medical team and the football staff and see what’s best.”
“When he is ready to cut it loose and there are no setbacks, he will be fine and we will use him in a lot of different ways,” defensive coordinator Gregg Williams said.
The Browns (0-3) will likely be without two of their best defensive players and possibly a third as they face Andy Dalton, A.J. Green and the rest of the Cincinnati offense.
Outside linebacker Jamie Collins was ruled out for the second straight game, as he remained in the concussion protocol. He will again be replaced by James Burgess in the base defense.
Defensive tackle Danny Shelton (calf) didn’t practice for the second straight day but was listed as questionable. The MRI results were “good news,” indicating it’s not a long-term injury.
“Danny’s a tough guy, loves to be out there, so if there’s any way possible he can be, he will be,” Jackson said.
The defense didn’t have much depth to begin the season and has struggled without Garrett and Collins. The Browns rank tied for 27th in points allowed (25.3), 11th in yardage (320.7), 14th against the run (87.7) and 20th against the pass (233.0).
Whenever he returns, Garrett, who had 32.5 sacks in three years at Texas A&M, will be counted on to send a jolt through a pass rush that has six sacks in three games, tying for 21st in the NFL.
“I don’t know how much he’ll play this weekend. But I hope he can have some meaningful snaps out there, because we know what he can do and the difference he makes for this team when he is out there and he is able to rush the passer,” left tackle Joe Thomas said.
Jackson said the decision on whether to play Garrett could wait until Sunday morning or be made ahead of time after more consultation with the medical staff. Williams said Garrett has been great throughout the rehabilitation process.
“The things that people don’t realize are all of the other things behind the scenes he does,” Williams said. “Hasn’t missed a meeting. He has the respect of everybody in the locker room, the training room, the strength department, the coaching and all of that stuff. We will see as he takes steps and see how his body handles it.”
Ends Carl Nassib and Nate Orchard, who have a sack apiece, would continue to see increased playing time if Garrett doesn’t play. If Garrett does play, he’d likely be limited to pass rush situations.
If Shelton can’t play or is limited, Jamie Meder and rookies Larry Ogunjobi and Caleb Brantley would be given extra work inside against Cincinnati’s three-headed rushing attack of Jeremy Hill, Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard. Shelton had his best game of the young season with seven tackles last week against the Colts.
“Those guys have been in a rotation so they have played,” Jackson said of the backups. “We have guys who have to step up if he is not able to go, but hopefully Danny is able to go and go play the way Danny knows how to play.”
Ogunjobi, a third-round pick out of Charlotte, has been active to start his career and has six tackles. He doesn’t seem overwhelmed by the situation.
“If my opportunity presents itself, I’ll be ready to make the most of it,” he said. “I’m seeing my mistakes, I’m seeing my progress.”