Garrett still away, Browns hopeful for sack leader’s return

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CLEVELAND (AP)NFL sacks leader Myles Garrett remained isolated from his teammates for the second straight day, but the Browns expect him to return Friday and play this weekend against Philadelphia.

Garrett, who has 9 1/2 sacks, has stayed at home the past two days after not feeling well. As long as his next COVID-19 test comes back negative, the standout defensive end will be allowed back at the team’s facility and to practice.

”Myles is scheduled to come back tomorrow. We will see,” Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said Thursday, emphasizing there are no givens in 2020. ”With all of this, you just have to follow the protocols.”

The Browns (6-3) are also without starting right tackle Jack Conklin and kicker Cody Parkey as they get ready to play the Eagles (3-5-1). Both were placed on the COVID list on Wednesday after they were identified as high risk for having close contact with an outside practitioner who tested positive.

Stefanski said both Conklin and Parkey have ”potential” to return Saturday and play Sunday. Fullback Andy Janovich, who played in last week’s win over Houston, was also placed on the COVID list earlier this week.

Conklin has solidified the right side of Cleveland’s line, and the Browns need him Sunday when they’ll be up against Eagles pass-rushing end Brandon Graham and a defense that has had 31 sacks.

”He has come in and done a good job for us,” Browns left guard Joel Bitonio said of Conklin, who signed with Cleveland as a free agent in March. ”That is the strength of their defense, their front four. Brandon Graham is one of the best edge guys in the league, and to have Jack match up with him, we like him battling him.

”We know it will be a tough battle, but we like having Jack out there and it would be big for us. He is one of our better players on offense, and to have him out there would be huge.”

The Browns could be missing a starter on defense as well after Mack Wilson missed Thursday’s practice with a hip injury.

As for the kicking game, Parkey’s uncertain situation has the Browns working through contingency plans.

Parkey is 11 of 12 on field-goal attempts since taking over when the Browns cut Austin Seibert after the Week 1 loss at Baltimore.

Browns special teams coordinator Mike Priefer said practice squad kicker Matt McCrane has been doing all the kicking while Parkey has been out.

”Hopefully we can get Cody back for the weekend,” Priefer said. ”If not, Matt had a real good day yesterday, he’s going to kick again today, he’ll be ready to roll. The great thing is, our personnel people and myself, we’ve had a plan in place since July if something crazy like this happened.

”As I told coach Stefanski the other day, we’re not going to bat an eye. We’ve got a plan and we’ve got to go execute the plan. If we don’t have Cody, we’ve got to be ready to go. And if Cody can come back Sunday morning, we’ll be ready to go. Either way we’re not pressing the panic button.”

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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