Groin injury may sideline Myles Garrett, but Browns defensive ends 'biting at the chomps' to prove themselves

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Browns defensive end Myles Garrett suffered a groin injury during a 16-14 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders on Monday and is in danger of missing Saturday's game at the Green Bay Packers. [David Richard/Associated Press]
Browns defensive end Myles Garrett suffered a groin injury during a 16-14 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders on Monday and is in danger of missing Saturday's game at the Green Bay Packers. [David Richard/Associated Press]

The Browns may have to face Hall of Fame-bound quarterback Aaron Rodgers Saturday without star defensive end Myles Garrett.

Garrett underwent testing Tuesday for a groin injury suffered in Monday’s 16-14 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders and will likely be questionable at best for the Christmas Day game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.

Browns coach Kevin Stefanski was not ready to rule out Garrett on Wednesday. On the injury report, estimated because they only held a walkthrough, Garrett was listed as one of three who would not have practiced.

"Not doing much from a physical standpoint, but I will get my eyes on him today, and we will see how it goes," Stefanski said.

Stefanski wouldn't reveal anything about the results of Garrett's test, presumably an MRI.

“We are just going to have to work through it," Stefanski said. "He has an injury there. We will see if it prevents him from playing. We will see if it prevents him from practicing. I think we are not there yet. We just have to see how he does today and the next day.”

The Browns' only regular practice before the Packers game is scheduled for Thursday.

Defensive tackle Malik Jackson was sending positive vibes Garrett’s way but also realized that the Browns (7-7) may have to count on players such as Porter Gustin and practice squad defensive end Curtis Weaver against the Packers (11-3), who boast the league’s best record.

“About Myles, I don’t know if he’s out yet, I’m going to put positivity in the air and say he’s going to be there,” Jackson said Wednesday. “I think we’ve got guys that have been sitting here biting at the chomps ready to get out there and show what they have. I don’t think we’ll miss a beat.

“As good as Myles is, If we’ve got two or three guys going just as hard, it will be good like Myles. I think we’ll be good.”

The Browns lost Takk McKinley to a ruptured Achilles against the Raiders, and fellow defensive end Jadeveon Clowney was among 22 Browns players on the reserve/COVID-19 list who sat out Monday's game.

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“We all play hard, this is a very physical game, it’s very demanding. If guys feel like they can’t go, then it’s the next guy up,” Jackson said. “I know Myles is a warrior, he’s going to try to go and be out there and help us, so that’s what I’m expecting. But if he can’t, then that’s what it is and I expect Weaver or Porter Gustin or whoever’s up to do their thing.”

Gustin was activated from the practice squad as a COVID-19 replacement on Saturday and played 32 of the 69 snaps (46%) on defense and 18 (69%) on special teams against the Raiders, totaling two tackles and a fumble recovery. Since joining the Browns in 2019, Gustin has played in 22 games — two this season and a career-high 14 in 2020 — posting 47 tackles, three for losses, four quarterback hits, one sack, and two fumble recoveries.

In the AFC wild-card victory at Pittsburgh in January, Gustin notched his first career interception of a ball deflected by defensive tackle Vincent Taylor. It was the first postseason interception by a Browns defensive lineman since 1971.

Cleveland Browns defensive end Porter Gustin intercepts a pass against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Cleveland Browns defensive end Porter Gustin intercepts a pass against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Browns may also be forced to give Joe Jackson more time. Called up from the practice squad Monday as a COVID-19 replacement, Jackson played 17 snaps (25%) and five on special teams and had three tackles, a half-sack, a tackle for loss, and a quarterback hit.

The Dallas Cowboys’ fifth-round pick in 2019, Jackson has played in 14 games in two seasons with the Browns, 11 in 2021. In his Cleveland career, he’s totaled 19 tackles, two for losses, 1.5 sacks, and three quarterback hits.

Defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo, on the reserve/COVID-19 list, has played in six games, contributing four tackles and a fumble recovery.

Weaver, a second-year player out of Boise State, has never played in an NFL game.

“A lot of those guys have played for us at moments this season," Stefanski said. "I think of Porter going back to last year making some big plays for us. Go through this season, Ifeadi has made some plays and Joe. They have done a nice job. If their number is called, they have to respond.”

Garrett said Monday that the groin was new injury, but vowed to do all he could to see action against the Packers.

“Sore. I mean, everybody has to play through pain, injury. Everybody's dealing with something,” Garrett said postgame. “So I don't feel sorry for myself, I don't want anybody to feel sorry for me. I've gotta get right, get ready for Christmas Day. We've got another game.”

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Jackson was saddened to see McKinley carted off with 4:13 remaining in the third quarter against the Raiders.

"It’s very unfortunate what happened to him," Jackson said. "Takk personally is a guy that just works hard. He doesn’t say much, but when he speaks you listen. He’s very caring and he always gives his all.

"For somebody to go out there and just fight through so much ... and go out like that, it sucks. It really hurt me when I saw him get carted off, then I saw him in the training room after the game. Then even seeing him yesterday in the training room I was like, ‘Damn.’

"I had a Lisfranc injury and I understand what it means to really miss something that you really care for, that you put your heart in. Praying for Takk."

Marla Ridenour can be reached at mridenour@thebeaconjournal.com. Read more about the Browns at www.beaconjournal.com/browns. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ.

This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Myles Garrett, Takk McKinley injuries thin Browns' defensive end ranks