CHARLOTTE -- A lot of emphasis is put on numbers in pro sports, but, if you ask left tackle Chris Clark, it doesn't take a stat sheet to show how skilled Cleveland defensive end Myles Garrett is.
"Numbers don’t matter. When a guy is good, a guy is good. I know he’s going to bring it," Clark said about the man he'll be lined up against in Week 14, who happens to lead the Browns with 11.5 sacks (fourth-most in the NFL). "The intensity level is going to be high. This is a must-win game for us."
Yes, as the left tackle eluded to, when the Panthers attempt to snap their four-game skid against the Browns, the fate of their season may be decided when the final whistle blows.
The approach will be the same as it has always been: in order to win, every player has to be on their toes. Clark's main focus will be making sure that Garrett doesn't put him on his heels.
"He tries to lead their defense. He’s the main guy who is running the show. He’s strong and relentless. Comes with it every down, man," Clark said. "It’s important that I do what needs to be done and practice hard this week to be ready for what he brings and make him match my intensity. That’s my mindset."
As Garrett's primary assignment, Clark will have to rely on his fundamentals and past experience matching up against the 2017 first overall pick.
Last season, as the left tackle for the Texans, Clark squared off with Garrett and the Browns in Week 6. When the dust settled, it was Houston that left with the 33-17 win, but Garrett still managed to earn a personal "W" of sorts, finishing with five tackles and a sack.
For Garrett, that Week 6 game was only his second NFL game after being sidelined until Week 5. Clark played 55 of 66 snaps that day while Garrett played 33, the third lowest count of his rookie year. In 2018, Garrett's lowest snap count has been 50, so it's pretty safe to say he'll be used often against Carolina.
With only 23 games worth of experience, Garrett's play has him already being considered as one of the elite talents at his position. Clark, a nine-year veteran who has faced and played with some of the best, believes he deserves that status.
"One day, he’ll probably be a Hall of Famer," he said of Garrett's ability.
Being a left tackle in the NFL brings a new, unique challenge every week. Clark, 33, will be asked to carry out a big task on the road Sunday against the 22-year-old Garrett, who will be hellbent on getting to quarterback Cam Newton.
"He’s a young guy who is hungry. I’m an old, veteran guy and I’m hungry still," Clark said with a smile. "It’ll be a good matchup."