BEREA — All-Pro defensive end Myles Garrett continues to battle pain in his knee and ankle.
It won’t prevent him from playing Sunday against the Chargers in Los Angeles, and so far he’s won the fight. He leads the NFL with six sacks through four games and is tied for the league lead with seven tackles for loss.
“I’m fully expecting to go,” Garrett said Friday after not practicing. He was listed as questionable on the official injury report. “It’s been bothering me since last week. I had some pain then, even the week before.
“Nobody’s 100 percent across the league, so I’ve just got to make sure I’m as close to there as possible and make sure I can be a positive force when I’m out there.”
After being given Wednesday off from practice to rest, Garrett was limited Thursday and listed on the injury report. He said the injuries didn’t happen Sunday in the 14-7 win over the Vikings and wouldn’t say what’s bothering him the most.
“I’ve been having some nagging pain and just had to let me heal up and get ready for Sunday,” he said.
Garrett had a franchise-record 4.5 sacks Sept. 26 in a 26-6 win over the Bears and a half-sack, four quarterback hits and two tackles for loss against the Vikings. He said the soreness shouldn’t hold him back.
“Not much. Not much at all,” he said. “When I go out there, that’s at the back of my mind. I’m putting 100 percent out there, putting my body on the line. I don’t care about what happens to me. It’s all about the team.”
He said he can feel the pain when he’s playing, but it’s worst before the game.
“When the adrenaline gets flowing, it starts to go away,” he said. “But at the beginning, before the game, that’s when I’m really trying to work on it as much as I can to make sure it doesn’t hold me back.”
The Browns should have their normal rotation of ends, as Jadeveon Clowney (elbow) and Takk McKinley (ankle/knee) returned to practice in limited roles Friday after sitting out Wednesday and Thursday. They were listed as questionable.
The Chargers prepared for Garrett at his finest.
“I don’t know if there’s a better defensive end/pass rusher in the NFL,” offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said. “He’s impressive. It’s going to be a challenge and he’s going to win some battles. That’s just something you have to know going into it and be smart about the plays you’re calling. Knowing that he’s a guy who can ruin your day by himself very quickly.
“Clowney, too, and Takkarist is playing really well. He’s really popping off the film as you watch the Browns. It seems like every week we’re in a situation where teams have good rushers, but these guys are really top-class.”
Garrett normally lines up at right end, but he may seek a more favorable matchup on the other side vs. the Chargers. Rookie left tackle Rashawn Slater, the No. 13 pick out of Northwestern, has drawn rave reviews for his play against Washington’s Chase Young and Las Vegas’ Maxx Crosby.
“He looks good, especially as a rookie,” Garrett said. “Has patience in his set, he’s able to negate power and, the way he sets, he’s able to change it up sometimes and throw people off.
“I think he’s studied the game a lot to know when he has help, where his help is, whether it’s from the guard or from chippers. I like that he’s already come this far as a rookie.”
The Browns’ front four has been outstanding the last two games and could attack suspect right tackle Storm Norton. Wherever Garrett and Clowney line up, their goal will be to harass and disrupt quarterback Justin Herbert, whose career is off to a tremendous start.
He was Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2020 and is the first quarterback in the Super Bowl era with 500 completions (509) in fewer than 20 starts (19). He, Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady and Josh Allen are the four players with 5,500 yards and 40 touchdowns since the start of last season.
If Herbert throws for 300 yards Sunday, it’ll be his 11th such game and he’ll surpass Mahomes and Hall of Famer Dan Marino for the most by a player in his first two seasons.
“He’s a great quarterback,” Garrett said. “The guy’s proven a lot this year. He’s shown that he needs his respect.”
The defense allowed six points to Chicago and seven to Minnesota, the first time the Browns held opponents to single digits in back-to-back games since 1995.
“We know we’ve still got something to prove,” Garrett said. “We’ve got something to prove every week. There will always be someone who doesn’t believe in what we’re doing or our performance from the week prior, so we’ve just got to keep on putting it on tape.”
The Browns and Chargers are 3-1, and the matchup could be repeated in the AFC playoffs.
“I feel like it’s a good measure for both of us to see where we’re at and the progressions of our seasons,” Garrett said.
With Garrett battling the leg injuries and quarterback Baker Mayfield playing through a partially torn labrum in his left shoulder, the alpha dogs on both sides of the ball are setting an example.
“Great leaders, they’re going to fight through anything and everything to get out there for their guys,” Garrett said. “Once you kind of put that out there, you make that the standard, everyone else will follow suit.”