The Cleveland Browns Can’t Afford to Rush Myles Garrett Back from Injury

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If you’re a Cleveland Browns fan, you woke up to today’s news and reacted accordingly.

Of course Myles Garrett, the No.1 overall pick from this year’s draft, hurt his ankle in practice before the season opener. Of course he was diagnosed with the dreaded high ankle sprain. Of course the team won’t even know how long he’ll be out until he’s reevaluated in a couple weeks.

Typical Browns, am I right?

Yes, it does appear the always-downtrodden Cleveland fans are taking Garrett’s injury news poorly, with many acting as if the season is already over. To those who are indeed treating this news as if the sky is falling, I would suggest preparing to feel this way for a while.

This is due to the fact Cleveland has no choice but to take its time when it comes to getting Garrett back on the field, as it simply can’t afford to rush his recovery.

Obviously the initial response to the injury was to hope the Browns’ top draft pick gets back in action as soon as possible. The team has incredibly high hopes for the defensive end, as he was seen as the lone can’t-miss prospect of this year’s rookie class. I’ll admit to having the wind taken out of my sails when hearing Garrett will miss this weekend’s opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers and more, as I was one of many who couldn’t wait to see what he could do come regular season.

However, said anticipation doesn’t outweigh the belief Cleveland should take its sweet time in getting Garrett back in action. I’m not necessarily saying he needs to be shelved for the entire year. That said, he definitely shouldn’t be involved in any Sunday game-plans until he’s 100% healthy.

The obvious reason for this is just how tricky high ankle sprains can be. It’s certainly not an injury which you recover from by just keeping weight off of it for a couple days. Depending on the severity of the sprain, Garrett could miss over a month of action.

Outside of this, though, Cleveland also needs to avoid rushing Garrett mainly due to how important he is for the future.

Need I remind everyone who’s in full-scale doomsayer mode today that the Browns aren’t a team which is playing for the postseason this year. Garrett’s injury, while incredibly unfortunate, doesn’t derail any sort of go-for-broke championship hopes for 2017.

This isn’t to say Cleveland won’t still try to win more games than it loses this season. However, we’re not talking about the final year of Super Bowl contention. Instead, this is year two of an extensive rebuild, the results of which are expected to be underwhelming.

Garrett is seen as a key piece to said rebuild. Cleveland selected him with the hopes he could become the cornerstone of the defense, a player who will be around for years to come as one of the foundations of the team.

Which is why it would make no sense to fast-track his recovery here. Garrett taking the field while not fully healed from his sprain could result in causing further damage, leading to more missed time. Cleveland has already seen what happens when a prized draft pick can’t stop getting injured (see: Brown, Courtney), and it’s tough to believe the team is willing to risk running into this again with someone as talented as Garrett.

Yes, he could potentially dynamically change a defense which has been sub-par at best for what feels like decades. Yes, losing him drastically deflates the anticipation for this weekend’s season opener. Yes, both the Browns and their fans have been dying to finally see Garrett in action.

Unfortunately, it’s just not going to occur this week. It also shouldn’t occur until he’s fully healthy.

While the injury and ensuing time on the sideline hinders Garrett’s chances to make an impact in his rookie year, both he and the Browns likely have bigger plans than just this season. This must be kept in mind as the team awaits his recovery from this sprain, no matter how many people eagerly await his debut.

Casey Drottar is an independent sports writer. Subscribe to his podcast, or follow him on Twitter and Facebook

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