With the Cleveland Browns' roster already weakened due to COVID-19, another potentially severe issue emerged.
During the second half of the Browns' eventual 16-14 loss against the Las Vegas Raiders on Monday, Pro Bowl defensive end Myles Garrett clutched his groin. Despite a painful groyne, Garrett never left the game and stated categorically that he would not miss any time in the future.
"It was tough, it hurt, but everybody's hurtin'," Garrett said. "I don't want to say I'm special. Everybody's fighting through something. You're gonna have to kill me to take me off the field, or you gonna have to break my leg. You're gonna have to take me completely out, because I'm gonna go out there until I can't."
Garrett had three tackles, including one for a loss, despite not being able to add to his season total of 15 sacks. Despite having 19 players on the active roster on the reserve/COVID-19 list, he contributed to an amazing defensive effort that kept the Browns close to the Raiders.
The former No. 1 overall pick found the long odds to be quite enticing.
"It was tough, but I can't lie, I was excited before the game to tackle another challenge," said Garrett, who was named to his third Pro Bowl earlier in the day.
The Browns appeared to be up to the task until Raiders quarterback Derek Carr led Las Vegas down into field goal range for Daniel Carlson's game-winning kick, which appeared to just miss Garrett's outstretched paw.
Garrett's presence in the game at that moment was a bit surprising. At the end of a Raiders drive in the third quarter, Garrett could be seen grabbing the inside of his right leg. He then proceeded to the Browns' medical tent.
On the next drive, Garrett exited from the tent and returned to the field without missing a play. He was, however, spotted favouring one leg and limping. But he persisted, just like he is pleading with his Browns to do.
Cleveland's playoff hopes have taken a hit because of the loss, but given the AFC North's tumultuous nature, it can swiftly rise from the ashes and rejoin the fray. The Browns (7-7) would have taken first place in the AFC North if they had defeated the Raiders, but their loss dropped them to fourth place in the division and 12th place in the conference. A win in Week 16 would make a huge difference.
"It's completely up for grabs still," Garrett said of the AFC North. "Just gotta keep on working, keep on winning. Again, the goal is still to win out. Destiny is still in our favor if we do the things we need to."
Garrett and the Browns are due back in action on a short week to face the Green Bay Packers on Christmas Saturday, so there is no rest for the weary. They'll have five days to get their act together, get fit, and prepare.
"It's sore. I mean, everybody has to play through pain, injury," Garrett said of his injury. "Everybody dealing with something. I don't feel sorry for myself, I don't want anybody feeling sorry for me. Gotta get right, get ready for Christmas Day; got another game."