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Browns' Garrett said COVID 'kicked my butt, now I'm back'

Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett (95) walks on the field prior to the start of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020, in Cleveland. Garrett was playing as well as any defender in the league when he fell ill and went on the COVID list after a positive test on Nov. 20. He missed Cleveland's past two games _ wins over Philadelphia and Jacksonville _ while isolating and recovering at home.(AP Photo/Kirk Irwin)
Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett (95) walks on the field prior to the start of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020, in Cleveland. Garrett was playing as well as any defender in the league when he fell ill and went on the COVID list after a positive test on Nov. 20. He missed Cleveland's past two games _ wins over Philadelphia and Jacksonville _ while isolating and recovering at home.(AP Photo/Kirk Irwin) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

CLEVELAND – Myles Garrett pushes, shoves and fights 300-pound offensive linemen on a nearly daily basis for a living. A microscopic virus flattened him.

“Kicked my butt,” the Browns star said Friday. “Now I’m back.”

Speaking for the first time since testing positive for COVID-19 last month and missing Cleveland's past two games, Garrett said he experienced moderate symptoms while sick and that he worried about long-term health issues.

“I lost my smell for almost two weeks, had the body aches, headaches, my eyes were hurting, coughing, sneezing, fever,” he said. "I was in pain.”

Garrett was activated from the COVID list Tuesday, returned to practice the past two days, and despite some stiffness on his first day back on the field, he's ready to play Sunday when the Browns (8-3) continue their playoff push against the Tennessee Titans (8-3).

Garrett was leading the NFL with 9 1/2 sacks and was in the conversation to be the league's Defensive Player of the Year before he fell ill. He can't make up for lost time, but the No. 1 overall pick in 2017 expects to play up to his high standards starting this week.

“I’m not here to make a cameo appearance or a second-rate arrival," he said. “I’m here to do the job that I was doing before. I don’t think there will be any drop-off. I wouldn’t give anything other than my best and I feel like that’s at the very top of the defensive line rankings.”

The 24-year-old has no idea how he contracted the virus. He said no one in his inner circle had been sick and he was surprised when he learned he was infected.