BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Myles Garrett’s big plans to sack Ben Roethlisberger in the season opener may be on hold.
At this point, everything’s suddenly in question.
Cleveland’s rookie defensive end, who through preseason has lived up to enormous expectations as the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s NFL draft, sustained a right ankle injury Wednesday, leaving his status for Sunday’s opener against Pittsburgh in doubt.
Coach Hue Jackson opened his news briefing by saying Garrett “was limited today with an ankle,” but he did not provide any specifics about the injury other than to say the 21-year-old did not finish practice.
“He went as long as he could,” said Jackson.
Garrett was scheduled to undergo further medical tests, including an MRI, Wednesday night, and it’s not likely the Browns will provide an update until Thursday.
Jackson, who typically downplays injuries when he knows a player will return, was evasive when asked about his level of concern on Garrett.
“We’ll see. I don’t want to make medical decisions,” he said. “I am not very good at them so we will see where we are as we move through the week.”
Jackson refused to elaborate on Garrett’s condition, how he hurt his ankle or at what point it occurred during the workout. He declined to answer further questions about Garrett as he left the podium, led by a team spokesman.
If serious, the injury to Garrett would be a devastating blow for the rebuilding Browns, who went 1-15 last season and are counting on the 6-foot-4, 272-pounder to improve a defense that ranked 31st overall.
Earlier in the day, Garrett didn’t back down from previous comments about wanting to “chop down” Roethlisberger in his first game. Now, that chance may have to wait as he recovers from another injury.
Garrett suffered what he feared was a serious left foot sprain during the spring; it turned out to be nothing major and he didn’t miss the start of training camp. He has dazzled with his speed, strength and commitment.
During his junior season at Texas A&M, Garrett was severely limited with a left ankle injury.
Despite a drop in production and sacks, the Browns were satisfied Garrett was healthy and worth the first choice and investment when they selected him first overall despite the need for a quarterback.
Before he was released last week, two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden felt the Browns, who have had a checkered history with bad first-round picks, had nailed this choice.
“He is looking like the first overall pick,” Haden said on a conference call. “I was super excited when we got him. I feel like that is the pick that is a stamp. We didn’t miss on that one. I could tell that from the very beginning. He just has stuff that you can’t teach: his motor, his professionalism and his attitude. He definitely is a pro already. He is mature beyond his age. He just loves the game and loves getting after it.
“My bold prediction, I really feel like Myles can make the Pro Bowl his rookie year.”
Garrett hopes to begin his season by getting his hands on Roethlisberger, who is 20-2 in his career against the Browns. Following the draft, Garrett made it clear he intended to make Roethlisberger his first sack, saying he was “coming for him first.”
“I stand by it,” Garrett said with no hesitation Wednesday before the injury. “You shouldn’t be scared to take anybody down.”
Garrett did concede that bringing down Big Ben is no easy task and had already formulated a plan of attack.
“He’s no small fella,” Garrett said. “It’s going to be pretty tough. He just makes you don’t hit him up high. You see a lot of guys who make that mistake and he just shrugs them off and he’ll find a little escape hatch and extend the play. So make sure you get him low, try and stay above the knee if they get him in his lower body, and make sure you wrap up and gator roll.”
Jackson said he appreciates the rookie’s confidence.
“Absolutely, I do. Now you’ve got to back it up,” he said. “In order to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, we do have to get Ben down. That’s not something that’s out of the ordinary. He was expressing the truth.”
NOTES: OL Joel Bitonio (knee) and DT Danny Shelton (knee) were both limited in practice and Jackson said “we’ll see” when asked if they could play this week. … Jackson said newly acquired WR Sammie Coates, who came over in a trade with the Steelers, “made some plays” in his first full practice. It’s still not clear if he’ll be active Sunday.