BEREA — Sacks aren't good enough for Myles Garrett anymore because the second-year Browns defensive end is determined to force more turnovers.
"You want to get the sack, but you want to get the forced fumble and the fumble recovery," Garrett said Friday as the Browns (4-7-1) geared up for Sunday's home game against the Carolina Panthers (6-6). "And if you get the touchdown, that's the cherry on top."
Elite defenders separate themselves from good ones with game-changing plays, and the Browns expect Garrett to be the best of the best after drafting him first overall last year.
He's tied for fourth in the NFL with 11.5 sacks, five behind Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald's league-leading 16.5.
He has forced three fumbles, two of which came on strip-sacks, but is being challenged to increase the total.
"Those are point-producing plays," interim coach Gregg Williams said. "We need to take the next step with that. He can do that and will.
"We say a sack is great, but it's not perfect until the ball is out. We want a sack and a caused fumble."
For the first time all season, the Browns didn't create a turnover Sunday, when they fell 29-13 to the Houston Texans and quarterback Deshaun Watson.
"[Turnovers are] always right around the corner," Garrett said. "You’ve just got to take advantage of them. I had [1.5 sacks] on Watson. I just didn’t aim for the ball. I was mostly just trying to get him down. He’s kind of slippery.
"But a guy like [Panthers quarterback] Cam [Newton], he’s hard to miss. He’s kind of like [Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback] Ben [Roethlisberger]. You know you can’t miss him. He’s too big to miss. You’ve just got to secure the tackle with one arm and then get the ball out. He’s going to give us opportunities."
As a rookie last season, Garrett finished with seven sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery in 11 games. In Week 16 against the Chicago Bears, he had an interception return for a touchdown negated by an offside penalty on former Browns defensive end Carl Nassib.
Another takeaway involving Garrett was wiped out this season. In Week 4, the officials prematurely whistled the play dead after Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr fumbled while Garrett and rookie linebacker Genard Avery sacked him. Defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi recovered and had a clear path to the end zone. The NFL later admitted the officials erred.
Let's be friends
In the offseason, General Manager John Dorsey gave Garrett film of Panthers nine-time Pro Bowl defensive end Julius Peppers and encouraged him to study it.
Garrett is looking forward to meeting Peppers, who has four sacks this season at age 38, for the first time Sunday.
"I’d like to talk to him in the offseason, learn from him, just pass rusher to pass rusher," Garrett said.
What did Garrett glean from watching Peppers?
"Motor and efficiency," Garrett said. "He has about two or three moves that are his go-to, that he knows he can win one off of, and he’ll set up those moves.
"He’ll give you something that you can work with, something to keep you off-balance and then hit you with that move that you’ve been waiting on all game."
Williams marvels at Peppers playing for 17 seasons. He's fourth on the all-time sack leaders list with 158.5.
"He's shown some things that we now continue to try to help coach other guys with similar body types," Williams said. "He has done a very good job. I shake my head on how long he has been able to play.
"Those positions, it's a fistfight in a phone booth for three hours. For those guys to be able to play that long it is remarkable."
Asked on a conference call if there are similarities between Garrett and Peppers, Panthers coach Ron Rivera said, "The explosive athleticism, that's probably the biggest thing that you see. If Myles can play for as long as Julius has, he'll be right up there."
Running back Duke Johnson returned to practice Friday after having excused absences from the previous two sessions because of personal reasons.
NFL Network reported Johnson had been away from the Browns because his grandmother died.
The Browns are not concerned about Johnson missing time and expect him to be fully prepared for the Panthers.
"He's one of the more cerebral backs that I've ever been around," running backs coach Ryan Lindley said. "He's a sharp guy. He's on his protections. That was the biggest thing that you kind of want to get him up to speed with and get him used to what [the Panthers] are throwing out with their blitz packages.
"Even while he's away, he's a guy who's going to be looking at film. The technology now, you're looking at an iPad, and you can be pretty much up to speed, especially how Duke operates, where he's not a rep guy. He doesn't need reps to be able to get it done on Sunday. We're happy to have him back."
• The Browns ruled out rookie cornerback Denzel Ward (concussion) and rookie guard/center Austin Corbett (foot) for Sunday. They listed Ogunjobi (biceps), center JC Tretter (ankle), cornerback Phillip Gaines (knee) and tight end Pharaoh Brown (shoulder) as questionable.
• Williams said Ogunjobi did more in Friday's practice than he had Thursday, and Garrett expects him to play. "Oh, he'll be out there. I don't care about his bicep," Garrett said with a smile. "He's going to be out there." Ogunjobi said Thursday whether he plays will likely be a game-time decision. Tretter is expected to play.
• Barring an unforeseen setback, the Browns will activate cornerback Terrance Mitchell from injured reserve before Saturday's 4 p.m. deadline. Mitchell started the first four games opposite Ward before suffering a broken right wrist Sept. 30. The team will need to make a corresponding roster move when it activates Mitchell.
• The Panthers signed Chandler Catanzaro and ruled out fellow kicker Graham Gano (left knee) for Sunday. Catanzaro made a 59-yard field goal to lift the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a 26-23 overtime win against the Browns on Oct. 21. The Panthers also listed safety Colin Jones (illness) as questionable.
• Hall of Fame receiver Cris Carter attended Friday's practice.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his Browns coverage at www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ByNateUlrich and on Facebook www.facebook.com/abj.sports.