BEREA, Ohio — The Browns are busy preparing for their final preseason game against the Chicago Bears on Saturday, but with Week 1 of the regular season right around the corner— a matchup against the Carolina Panthers—will the faceoff with Baker Mayfield hold extra weight for his former teammates?
Maybe not so much.
"No," said defensive end Myles Garrett. “He’s my former teammate. But I don’t have any—there’s no rivalry between me and him and there’s no rivalry between the Panthers and the Browns. Yes he was here, but that doesn’t mean I have an added sense of urgency to get to him."
Garrett, the quarterback grim reaper with a Halloween display featuring all of the quarterbacks he's sacked over the course of his career, knows Mayfield well. He's gone against him in practice, seen him operate on the football field for four years, and has a pretty good idea of what he brings to the table. The familiarity is something Garrett is looking forward to, but still, he won't treat Week 1 any differently.
"I take it as it comes, whoever the opponent is that week I just end up studying them. It’s like when you get out here and you scrimmage against your guys, it’s just another guy to go against. You study them as they show up," Garrett said. "It’s going to be a new matchup. You have to study them. You have to look at tendencies, you have to, you know, learn how he’s going to be on the field compared to those tendencies and so I don’t think it makes any difference if we haven’t played them much before. The familiarity is nice but you’re not always going to be familiar with your opponent, so you have to learn from other guys and talk to your teammates as well as studying film.”
While Garrett takes a no-pressure-to-get-pressures approach, Mayfield is almost the opposite. The former Browns quarterback, who has officially been named the Panthers starter for Week 1 against his old team, said he's taking things one week at a time but knows the matchup will mean a lot to him.
“Obviously there’s a lot of attachment there. I’m not gonna sit here and be a robot and say that it doesn’t mean anything. It will," Mayfield told Carolina media. "But, right now all that matters is me continuing to improve until this regular season starts."
The lack of urgency from the Browns doesn't mean they aren't happy for Mayfield and his new opportunity with the Panthers. It's quite the opposite actually.
Offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt had nothing but support for Mayfield.
“Happy for him. Happy for Baker. Looking forward to competing against those guys," Van Pelt said.
Meanwhile, guard Wyatt Teller, who had a very close relationship with Mayfield, also shared his well wishes for Mayfield—just not in Week 1.
"I'm excited for him. I obviously want to see him do great things whatever his jersey is, but not Week 1," Teller said.
But at the end of the day, Garrett and the Browns are just looking to play well no matter who they're taking on—but a sack or two wouldn't hurt.
"I want to play my best and whatever’s in the cards, that’s it for me," Garrett said. "If I can help my team win, if I can put them in the best position to win, I’m going to do that and if I can get a couple sacks along the way, I would kind of enjoy that too.”
Camryn Justice is a reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Twitter @camijustice.
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