BEREA, Ohio -- Former Ohio State University linebacker Larry Grant took a humbling path to the Cleveland Browns.

The five-year NFL veteran played in just two games last season, and had to participate in the Browns' rookie minicamp last weekend on a tryout basis in order to earn a contract offer, which came his way prior to last Wednesday's organized team activities practice at the Berea training facility.

And Grant's former teammate with the San Francisco 49ers, new Browns safety Donte Whitner, could not be happier for him.

"I've known Larry for a long time; I know the type of talent that he has," Whitner said. "I know how hungry he was to get back into the National Football League, and he's hungry.

"He wants to get out there, make this team, first and foremost, prove that he belongs and prove that he can continue to play this game. I'm rooting for him. I'm looking forward to him getting out there and making some plays."

The six-foot-one, 251-pound Grant experienced his greatest NFL success in helping San Francisco make back-to-back NFC Championship Game appearances following the 2011 and 2012 seasons. Grant made just three starts on defense, but played in 32 straight contests for the 49ers.

He registered a career-high 39 total tackles, including 30 solo stops, two sacks, five passes defended and one forced fumble.

"Larry filled in a lot for us in San Francisco when Navarro Bowman would go down with an injury, when Patrick Willis would go down with an injury," Whitner recalled. "He would step in and come out with 12, 14 tackles, a sack, an interception, a forced fumble to win football games."

In 2012, Grant made just six tackles for the 49ers. Last season, he joined the Chicago Bears for weeks nine and 10, but made just one tackle in those two games, and was waived on Nov. 16.

But after watching him go through organized team activities last week, Whitner believes Grant has changed for the better.

"He realizes that he was out of shape," Whitner said. "He'll be the first person to tell you he was out of shape in San Francisco. He really didn't take things seriously, but when you sit down for a while and have an opportunity to look at things from the outside in, that's when you can go and change things.

"That's what he did. He's slim and trim. He's out there learning the defense. I guarantee he'll be caught up really quick. He's a special-teams guy. He likes to play special teams. That's a guy that can bring some special-teams leadership to our special-teams group if he's not competing to be a starter. I look forward to Larry getting out there and competing to make his football team."