Red Bryant finally made an impact on an NFL football field last year.
But after his season was cut short by a knee injury, the defensive lineman for the Seattle Seahawks wants to prove his good play wasn’t a fluke.
“I feel pretty good,” Bryant said. “I’m just steadily getting my groove. As camp goes, I feel like I’m going to get better and better. Right now I’m having a little trouble with my conditioning. And so that’s to be expected. So once my conditioning gets up, I feel like I’ll be able to be more consistent.”
But Bryant’s quest to capitalize on last year’s momentum has been put on hold. The 27-year-old Texas A&M product has not practiced in over a week, because coach Pete Carroll chooses to have him take things slow.
Carroll said he’s uncertain if Bryant will play in Thursday’s exhibition in San Diego. At 6-foot-4, Bryant appears a little heavier than his listed 335-pound playing weight. And the team’s training staff wants to make sure that his repaired knee doesn’t take too much pounding early in camp. Bryant has had knee surgeries in two of the past three years. As a result, he has been active for only 13 of 32 regular-season games.
The lockout hampered the training staff’s ability to monitor Bryant’s rehabilitation, so they are taking a cautious approach.
“We went really hard the first couple of days and we just want to make sure he doesn’t have any type of carry over,” Carroll said. “He did well, looked good, moved well and all that. His weight is up a little bit because he hasn’t been able to work out as much as he would like to, so we’re going to work him back in and we think he fits in just right for us. We’re expecting a lot out of Red.”
When healthy, Bryant proved he can be effective.
Former Seattle defensive line coach Dan Quinn is credited with finding the right spot for Bryant’s skills by moving him to defensive end last year, where his rare combination of size and athletic ability helped lead the Seahawks to a No. 2 overall ranking in rushing defense before he injured his knee against Oakland in Week 7.
Bryant tore the medial collateral ligament and underwent surgery in November.
Good friend and fellow defensive lineman Brandon Mebane said he always believed Bryant could contribute.
“I always knew Red had a lot of talent,” Mebane said. “The main thing with Red was just bringing it out of him, just finding his niche. And I think he found it, and he’s not looking back.”