Myles Garrett isn’t thinking about Mason Rudolph or any narratives ahead of the Browns’ Week 6 matchup against the Steelers.
The star defensive end — who was embroiled in controversy for a Nov. 14 helmet-swinging incident with Pittsburgh’s backup quarterback last season — had considered approaching Rudolph “man-to-man” about it.
But not this week.
This week, he’s focusing on his opponent, Ben Roethlisberger, whom he vowed to “chop down” on the night he was drafted No. 1 overall by Cleveland in 2017.
“I haven’t thought about it,” Garrett said of speaking with Rudolph privately to reporters on Friday over video conference via Cleveland.com. “Focusing on how I’m going to get to Ben. I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it, whether that’s down the road or whenever we see each other. I’m just focused on the game plan and getting the win. That comes secondary.”
The 24-year-old All-Pro lineman was suspended indefinitely at the time for his role in the fight, which broke out in the final second of a 21-7 Browns win. Garrett then clocked the Steelers backup quarterback in the head with his own helmet later claiming Rudolph called him a racial slur, something Rudolph denies.
“You’ve got play within yourself and not allow those emotions to guide you and your actions,” he said. “Just play how you always have, no matter if someone’s there or no one’s there.”
The time away from the field was difficult for Garrett, who thought about quitting, whether or not he was reinstated by the league.
“I did [think about quitting,]” he told Cleveland.com in an interview in September. “Whether it was because of their decision or my decision, it was whether this was going to continue. … Life’s funny that way. Fame is fleeting, athletic ability is fleeting and you have to make the most of it while it’s here.
Garrett was eventually reinstated in February, and the Browns extended him for five-years, $125 million in July. Five games into this season, he is an early frontrunner for the Defensive Player of the Year Award. He has recorded six sacks, 13 tackles, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
Sunday will be the first time he faces the Steelers since the fight in what could be an emotionally-charged game attended by around 6,000 fans at Heinz Field. The Browns played the Steelers again in December and lost by a score of 20-13, though Garrett was serving out his suspension at the time.
“I’m just ready to play within the six seconds that the average play lasts,” he said. “After that, that’s on them. I’ll walk away from any situation that we have and [when] they snap the ball again, I’ll be there.”
The Browns (3-2) will attempt to topple the undefeated Steelers (4-0) in Pittsburgh on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.