BEREA, Ohio — On Day One, Myles Garrett looked like a legitimate No. 1.
Bursting off the line of scrimmage during a pass-rush drill, Garrett quickly got around offensive tackle Rod Johnson, a fellow rookie who could do little to slow down the speedy defensive end and top pick in this year’s draft.
Garrett was quickly in the backfield and came within arm’s reach of quarterback Kevin Hogan, prompting loud cheers and the traditional barks and woofs by Browns fans who spent most of the last season muzzled and miserable.
On the next play, with coach Hue Jackson watching, Garrett beat Johnson again.
Garrett’s dominance on consecutive snaps was among the biggest highlights Thursday as the Browns took their first steps in distancing themselves from going 1-5 in 2016.
“I was over there in that ring,” said Jackson, who is keeping close tabs on the franchise’s newest star. “Obviously he’s a good player. But as I told Myles, you’ve got to do it every day and keep working at it and keep his head down and stay humble and keep working. And I think the young man will do that.”
Just having Garrett on the field was a summer victory for the Browns.
The former Texas A&M standout sprained his left foot when he stepped on quarterback Brock Osweiler’s foot during minicamp last month. There was initial concern it was both serious and could potentially sideline him for an indefinite period. However, the Browns, besieged by costly injuries in the past, finally caught a break and Garrett is 100 percent.
“After a couple days I knew it wasn’t too bad,” Garrett said before practice. “They were keeping me out to protect me and my future.”
Cleveland’s future appears promising with the additions of Garrett, defensive back Jabrill Peppers and QB DeShone Kizer, three high-profile rookies who could shape the franchise for years. And while the Browns have fallen prey to unreal expectations before during nearly two decades mired in losing, they may finally have a player capable of leading them from the darkness.
“I give credit to our executive team because we drafted the right one, in my opinion,” Jackson said.
Garrett is the complete package. Blessed with rare physical gifts, the 21-year-old also has refreshing humility, something that comes across during interviews.
Before taking the field, Garrett was asked about how he would define a successful rookie season.
“Starter,” he said.
Garrett then rattled off some loftier goals.
“I mean Defensive Rookie of the Year would be a nice way to go,” he said. “… But first I’ve got to get to the first team. I’ve got to put some work in. But until then, I’m just keeping my head down, keeping my mouth closed and listening. Keep on working.”
Garrett knows he has a lot to learn and he’s eager to work on his game against Browns left tackle Joe Thomas, a 10-time Pro Bowl selection who has never missed a snap in his pro career. He described Thomas as “one of the greatest of all time” and Jackson said the matchup can only help Garrett.
“It can be a really good teaching moment,” said Jackson, who kept Thomas out of team drills during the first workout. “Joe is up for that challenge, trust me. He is looking forward to it. It is going to happen. When is it going to happen? I don’t know. I’m not scripting it to happen, but I know it is going to happen at some point in time. It is going to be a good challenge for them both, and we are looking forward to that.”
Beyond his playing skills, Garrett has brought a new mindset to the Browns. While he sympathizes with what his older teammates dealt with last season, when they dropped their first 14 games, Garrett is only concerned about what’s ahead.
“Last season’s over,” he said. “We’re about to crank up into a whole new, different time period.”
NOTES: WR Corey Coleman said he’s confident he will be cleared in an investigation surrounding an altercation involving his brother in January. Jonathan Coleman was indicted last month on a felonious assault charge. Coleman remains under investigation for an incident that happened in his apartment building. He deferred any questions about his involvement to his lawyer. … WR Kenny Britt caught a long TD pass from Cody Kessler before leaving the field with what Jackson said were cramps. … Starting OGs Joel Bitonio and John Greco were both on the field after undergoing major foot surgeries last year.