Switch could pay off for Bryant and Seahawks

Published on June 28, 2010 by     

What seemed like a wacky experiment just might turn into something productive for the Seahawks’ defense.

Red Bryant, heretofore known as one of Seattle’s biggest defensive tackles, has become Red Bryant, a comically big defensive end this offseason, and the results so far have been better than anyone, including Bryant himself, could have imagined.

At first the sight of the 330-pound Bryant at end seemed odd at best, but over the course of Seattle’s minicamps and organized team activities, the third-year player has passed Lawrence Jackson on the team’s depth chart and was taking the bulk of the snaps with the No. 1 defense during this week’s minicamp, the team’s last before training camp begins at the end of July.

“He probably, of the roster adjustments and things, is the guy that I’m most excited about,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “Because he was just barely getting playing time the year before and he’s a starter for us at the defensive end spot and brings special qualities because he’s such a big guy and he moves well and he’s in the best shape of his life.”

Bryant works as a defensive end now because Carroll’s defense calls for two drastically different players at the end positions. Bryant plays the five-technique, a player whose primary job is to stop the run, not harass quarterbacks. The Seahawks’ other end, called “Leo” in their defense, is a pass-rusher first and foremost, and will at times move around more than a traditional end.

Bryant admits he was unsure about the switch, which was first suggested by defensive line coach Dan Quinn. But after playing just 10 games in his first two seasons as a tackle, he was open to make changes if it gave him a better chance to make the team and get on the field.

“At first I was nervous — I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t — because defensive ends are smaller and cover more space,” Bryant said. “But when coach explained to me exactly what my role would be, and had so much confidence I could do it, the more I gained confidence.

“I had kind of lost my confidence a little bit given that I’d been here two years and played in 10 games. It was a bumpy ride, but I stayed mentally tough, and I’m ready to produce.”

And Bryant knows he is a long way from starting the season opener in September. It is entirely possible that Carroll promoted Bryant as a way to motivate Jackson, one of his former players at USC, or that Jackson could simply win the job back in training camp. For now, however, Bryant is enjoying life as one of the NFL’s biggest defensive ends.

“Coach Carroll … he’ll find a place for you no matter who you are,” Bryant said. “In my case, it’s been great. I went from what I would say was a bust, to maybe being a major part of the defense. With that being said, I’ve still got a lot to prove, it’s just OTAs and stuff like that, but I’m confident and know that I can do it.”

Seahawks add a defensive tackle

Seattle signed defensive tackle Jonathan Lewis Thursday and released defensive tackle Barrett Moen to make room on the roster. Lewis, who participated in this week’s minicamp as a tryout player, came into the league as a sixth-round pick of Arizona in 2006. Lewis has also previously spent time with Oakland, Seattle, Detroit, Jacksonville and Cleveland.

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