CLEVELAND (AP) — Myles Garrett pushes, shoves and fights 300-pound offensive linemen on a nearly daily basis for a living. A microscopic virus flattened him.
“Kicked my butt,” the Browns star said Friday. “Now I’m back.”
Speaking for the first time since testing positive for COVID-19 last month and missing Cleveland's past two games, Garrett said he experienced moderate symptoms while sick and that he worried about long-term health issues.
“I lost my smell for almost two weeks, had the body aches, headaches, my eyes were hurting, coughing, sneezing, fever,” he said. "I was in pain.”
Garrett was activated from the COVID list Tuesday, returned to practice the past two days, and despite some stiffness on his first day back on the field, he's ready to play Sunday when the Browns (8-3) continue their playoff push against the Tennessee Titans (8-3).
Garrett was leading the NFL with 9 1/2 sacks and was in the conversation to be the league's Defensive Player of the Year before he fell ill. He can't make up for lost time, but the No. 1 overall pick in 2017 expects to play up to his high standards starting this week.
“I’m not here to make a cameo appearance or a second-rate arrival," he said. “I’m here to do the job that I was doing before. I don’t think there will be any drop-off. I wouldn’t give anything other than my best and I feel like that’s at the very top of the defensive line rankings.”
The 24-year-old has no idea how he contracted the virus. He said no one in his inner circle had been sick and he was surprised when he learned he was infected.
Garrett was unable to work out for the two weeks he was idle. As his sickness dragged on, he grew concerned about heart problems, which can occur in some COVID patients.
“If my lungs are a little bit heavy, I'll fight through that, but there's nothing you can do with the heart,” he said.
Garrett said he's been assured by doctors that there are no abnormalities with his heart.
“They haven’t told me that I’ll have to worry about anything, really,” he said. "I’m feeling as normal as I’m going to. So I’m treating it as if I’m picking up right where I left off. None of this business that’s been going on through 2020 is going to stop me from trying to put my best foot forward.
“And these guys deserve it. And if we’re going to make any kind of push towards the playoffs and a run at it, I’ve got to just keep on going, put the team first.”
Garrett was playing as well as any defender in the league when he fell ill and went on the COVID list after a positive test on Nov. 20. The Browns sustained their best start since 1994 by winning both games while he isolated and recovering at home “on my couch.”
It was tough for the Browns to be without Garrett, but they're getting him back just in time to take on Tennessee's powerful running game led by Derrick Henry, the reigning NFL rushing champion with 1,257 yards who is on track to win a second straight crown.
Garrett said there's no easy way to stop Henry other than to just do it.
“You've got to get in there fearless, find a body part, gator roll and bring him down,” he said.
NOTES: WRs KhaDarel Hodge (hamstring) and Taywan Taylor (neck) will miss Sunday's game. Earlier this week, Hodge, who has had a more expanded role since Odell Beckham Jr. got hurt, raised some eyebrows by declaring he didn't think the Titans were “a super team.” The injuries will give rookie Donovan Peoples-Jones more playing time and the Browns will activate a receiver — Ja’Marcus Bradley and Derrick Willies are candidates — from the practice squad.
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