This past Wednesday, we finally got our showdown between future Hall of Fame left tackle Joe Thomas and first overall pick Myles Garrett. We heard Hue Jackson, Bruce Smith, and Garrett himself weigh-in on the face-off, and prior to Thursday’s practice, it was time for Thomas to heap praise toward the rookie, including how he’s got the total package with size, quickness, speed, and explosiveness:
Thomas said he knew Garrett was the real deal earlier this offseason when a ball was thrown downfield, and then the rookie sprinted 50 yards and was faster than all of the defensive backs. “That’s the moment when you’re like, ‘Wow, this guy’s really got something special,’” said Thomas.
Being in his tenth season, Thomas has had the chance to face some great pass rushers in the NFL. He named off four of the most top-level rushers he’s gone up against, and said that Garrett has the God-given talent to be right up there with those guys one day:
“Dwight Freeney is always one guy I think about when I think of the best pass-rushers I've ever faced. DeMarcus Ware, Khalil Mack, Terrell Suggs -- those are guys that come to my head first. [Garrett] certainly has the talent to be in that category, but obviously as a rookie, he's got a lot of things to learn and has got to polish his game before he's going to be on that level. When you just look at [his] God-given ability and potential, there's no reason that he couldn't be an elite pass-rusher.”
You might recall that Garrett told reporters on Wednesday that Thomas told him, ‘nice try’ when he couldn’t get by he and left guard Joel Bitonio on a play. Thomas explained the fun nature of ribbing during what feels like a long day at times:
“The training camp practices can get a little hot and long so you have to have some fun with things when you are out there. The little fun banter back and forth is always something that is fun. It is definitely fun to have fun with the rookies a little bit.”
Besides the ribbing, though, Thomas talked about how he loves giving tips like a coach and seeing players implement those tips, and he’ll give Garrett all the advice he can:
“I think that I have got enough experience under my belt that I can give him a few tips. Now, nothing will replace his coach, but from my perspective, I can let him know what it hard on a tackle and what makes my job difficult when he does certain things. It has been fun because he has been very receptive to coaching. He is extremely bright. He is great at understanding the points that you are trying to give him. I am excited to watch him out there in the first preseason game and see what happens.”
Now, the next question is whether we’ll see Thomas vs. Garrett, Part II, during Friday’s scrimmage (weather permitting) at FirstEnergy Stadium. It will be the first-team offense vs. the second-team defense. Garrett was with the first-team defense on Wednesday for the first time, but was back with the second-unit on Thursday. If I had to guess, I’d say that Garrett will be with the first unit at the scrimmage, leaving the re-match for another day.