The first time the Seattle Seahawks put on pads during training camp, second-year offensive tackle Russell Okung managed to lock up with Red Bryant during a drill.
Try telling Okung that the burly defensive end had major knee surgery less than a year ago.
“Big Red is big Red. He’s going to give it to you,” Okung said. “One thing I love about Red is he’s going to come at you every snap.”
Just nine months after right knee surgery, Bryant has practiced without restrictions early in camp – minus the occasional day off like he received on Tuesday.
When Pete Carroll took over the Seahawks, Bryant seemed to be on his way out. He had not developed into the run-stuffing defensive tackle the Seahawks were looking for when they drafted him out of Texas A&M. But Carroll thought Bryant still could be useful and shifted him to defensive end, hoping his 340-pound frame at the edge of the line of scrimmage would help Seattle’s run defense and free up room for linebackers to make plays.
It worked for the first two months of last season, when the Seahawks were among the best teams in the NFL at stopping the run.
That all changed on Oct. 31 when Bryant was injured against Oakland. The 6-foot-4 Bryant was lost for the year when teammate Chris Clemons crashed into his right knee while trying to make a tackle in the second quarter. Bryant tore the medial collateral ligament in his knee and underwent surgery in November.
“I think he’s going to be fantastic. The things that he showed us last year will only be more impacting this year,” Carroll said. “We’ll utilize him better, he’s more experienced at what we want and he’s a big man that plays really hard, so we’re expecting really big things from him.”