Bagging Ben: Garrett aiming to sack Roethlisberger in opener
If he can get his hands on him.
Cleveland’s defensive end, who playfully destroyed a photo of Roethlisberger as part of a video parody during the offseason, gets his first crack at Pittsburgh’s star quarterback in a game on Sunday when the Browns host the Steelers.
Garrett missed last year’s opener as a rookie against Pittsburgh with a severe ankle injury, and Roethlisberger skipped the season finale to be ready for the playoffs.
They’ll finally meet on the field, and Garrett hopes to make his formal introduction in the Steelers’ backfield.
“I plan to get back there a little bit,” he said.
Garrett has had an eye on sacking Roethlisberger almost since the moment the Browns selected him with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 draft. Not long after arriving in Cleveland, the 6-foot-4, 272-pounder vowed he’d go after Roethlisberger and “chop him down,” something the Browns have rarely done while going 2-21 against him as a starter.
Finally, Garrett is going to get some whacks at Pittsburgh’s extra-large QB, who can be a handful to topple.
He has a plan of attack.
“You’ve got to use your whole body,” said Garrett, who was voted a captain by his teammates. “You can’t try to arm tackle him, where you just try to grab him by his arm or his side. You have to lean into him a little bit, try to torque him.
“Otherwise, he’s just going to strike you off or spin out of the tackle. He just has that way where you’re on him, but he’ll just step up while you’re flying by, so you have to make sure you’re directly on him.
“If you’re leaning any kind of way, he’ll just slip out of there.”
Roethlisberger’s size allows him to ward off would-be sackers, and his ability to sense pressure in the pocket gives him other escape routes.
As he gets ready for an opener in which he’ll be without star running back Le’Veon Bell, Roethlisberger knows Garrett has him in his sights.
“What an animal, a guy that just gets after the quarterback,” he said. “We are really going to have to keep two eyes on him. There’s really not much I can do with Myles. It’s not like I can speed option at him and give him a fake or something so it’s up to the line to block him and those guys.”
Roethlisberger was sent the 61-second video produced by the Browns in July that featured several players including quarterback Tyrod Taylor, wide receiver Jarvis Landry and others in a spoof of “The Office,” the popular TV series.
Toward the end of the video, Garrett, dressed like nerdy character Dwight Schrute, complete with wire-rimmed glasses, feeds a photo of Roethlisberger through a paper shredder while offering a blank expression to the camera.
Garrett said he willingly participated in the gag.
“It’s just a joke,” he said. “I’m here to have a little bit of fun and play some football. It goes along with what I’m trying to do, so I had no problem doing it.”
All kidding aside, Garrett has major respect for Roethlisberger, one of eight quarterbacks in NFL history to pass for more than 50,000 yards.
‘He’s a Super Bowl champion,” Garret said. “A multiple-time Super Bowl champion, so you know he’s played on a high level consistently for years, so you have to be able to respect greatness when you see it, but you also have to seize the opportunity of being able to usurping that position.
“You have to be able to respect it, but don’t be afraid of it and don’t be afraid of that moment.”
NOTES: Coach Hue Jackson isn’t ready to divulge his starting left tackle for Sunday. Jackson may move Joel Bitonio back to left guard and start undrafted rookie Desmond Harrison at tackle. “I just want to get through practice and kind of go from there before I make that choice,” Jackson said. “I owe it to the football team. I owe it to all involved to make sure we make the right choice to start the game.” … Garrett, Bitonio and Taylor were named captains along with P Britton Colquitt and LB Christian Kirksey. … QB Baker Mayfield was named the team’s top rookie in training camp by the local media.