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Notes: Myles Garrett still chasing Defensive Player of the Year but lags behind Aaron Donald

BEREA — Myles Garrett hasn’t given up his dream of winning Defensive Player of the Year but has a long way to go to catch Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, the heavy favorite to repeat.

“Hell, I’d like to make a case for DPOY,” Garrett said Friday. “There’s six games left, so anything happens.”

Donald is the 1-to-4 favorite to win the award, according to gambling site Bovada.lv. Chicago defensive end Khalil Mack is second at 9-to-2 and Garrett third at 12-to-1.

Donald leads the league with 14.5 sacks for the Rams (10-1). Garrett is tied for ninth with nine through 10 games.

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“I know what the leader has, and that’s about it,” Garrett said of his place in the standings. “Everybody else in between that’s just like fodder. They’re ahead of me, but I’m going for the top.”

Garrett (6-foot-4, 272 pounds) watched part of the Rams’ victory Monday night over the Chiefs.

“Hell, he’s a monster,” Garrett said of Donald (6-1, 280). “He’s about as tall as Bake (Baker Mayfield), but he can play. He’s strong as hell. He’s got long arms. He knows how to get to the quarterback.”

Garrett, the No. 1 pick in 2017, is second in Pro Bowl fan voting for ends behind Houston’s J.J. Watt and would settle for being named an all-star for the first time.

“I’d like to make it,” he said.

Garrett played every snap in the opening tie against Pittsburgh and at least 83 percent until the pre-bye 28-16 win over the Falcons, when he played 67 percent (50 of 75). Interim coach and coordinator Gregg Williams said the season-long goal was to reduce the number of snaps to maximize Garrett’s productivity.

“I didn’t mind,” Garrett said. “We saw what happened when I was out there every snap, the Bucs game, looking like I was doing summer strength conditioning, out there dead.

“If I can get some time off and still be productive, and go 85-90 percent of the plays, that’s fine with me. I don’t think I should be out there 100 percent.”

He needs snaps to stockpile statistics — his nine sacks are most in franchise history through 10 games, and he has three forced fumbles and three passes defensed — but wants to do what’s right for the team.

“I can’t go out there and be gassed and trying to go out there and make a play just for individual stats,” he said. “If we’re in the red zone or on the goal line and I’m gassed, I have to fight through that. But if we’re in the middle of the field or they’re backed up, and I’m four or five plays in, I’m taking myself out for a couple of plays or he takes me out for a couple plays, go back in and have my wind back and be able to do something for us.”

BIDING HIS TIME

Rookie defensive end Chad Thomas, a third-round pick, hasn’t registered a stat through 10 games. He’s played in four, been a healthy inactive three times and didn’t play three times when he was active.

“Has to continue to grow. It is not an easy business,” Williams said. “It is a talented group up front. He is maturing. He has come a long way.

“You have to earn the right to get on the field.”

Thomas said the lack of playing time gets frustrating but he’s committed to taking the proper approach and putting the team first.

“It’s a learning process,” he said. “Just working. That’s all I can do. Work hard. Make sure I’m on top of everything I’ve got to do, be responsible.

“Whenever my number gets called, time to go out there and work.”

MORE TO COME

Ignore offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens at your own risk.

Before facing the Falcons he said he wanted the offense to evolve into running the wishbone, and reporters laughed. He then used the full-house backfield featuring running backs Nick Chubb, Duke Johnson and Dontrell Hilliard for six of seven plays in a second-quarter drive.

“I tried to tell you guys, but you would not believe me,” Kitchens said Friday leading into the matchup with the Bengals on Sunday in Cincinnati.

Kitchens cheated death, lives life to fullest, beloved by friends and family. 

He said he’ll stick with it.

“Yeah, we are going to use it,” he said. “We are probably going to use it 45-50 plays this week, and we are going to go with it and see what happens.

“It is just an opportunity to get some of our good players on the field. They deserve to play, too. As long as they are making plays, we are going to use it.”

SCARED BUCKEYE?

The secondary is divided.

Rookie cornerback Denzel Ward went to Ohio State. Second-year strong safety Jabrill Peppers went to Michigan. The Buckeyes host the Wolverines on Saturday at noon for the Big Ten East title.

“I asked him to put a wager on it, but he did not want to put a wager on it,” Peppers said. “I think he knows what is up.”

A common bet in NFL locker rooms requires the loser to wear a jersey from the winner’s school

“I said, ‘Let’s bet,’” Peppers said. “He said, ‘I am not putting on any Michigan (clothing).’ I am like, ‘Are you scared? You do not have belief in your boys?’

“We will figure something out. It is not going to be as fun if he does not do that, but it is what it is.”

EXTRA POINTS

The Browns listed center JC Tretter (ankle) and tight end David Njoku (knee) as questionable on the injury report but both are expected to play. Tretter practiced Friday in a limited capacity and Njoku was a full participant.

** The Bengals continue to be hit hard by injuries. Defensive tackles Adolphus Washington and Josh Tupou were placed on injured reserve this week, and starting linebacker Nick Vigil (knee) and receiver Josh Malone (hamstring) were ruled out for the game.

Three starters, receiver A.J. Green (toe), left tackle Cordy Glenn (back) and cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (shoulder), were listed as questionable.

** “I thought about being a doctor, but everybody was worried about my bedside manner so I became a coach,” Williams said.

Browns writer for The Chronicle-Telegram and The Medina Gazette. Proud graduate of Northwestern University. Husband and stepdad. Avid golfer who needs to hit the range to get down to a single-digit handicap. Right about Johnny Manziel, wrong about Brandon Weeden. Contact Scott at 440-329-7253, or email and follow him on and Twitter.

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