CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Browns lost far more than their starting defensive end when Desmond Bryant suffered a torn pectoral muscle in an offseason training session.
When the 6-foot-6, 310-pound Bryant suffered the injury, the Browns lost their leader in sacks last year, and the most prolific pass-rushing defensive lineman they have had since his arrival in Cleveland prior to the start of the 2013 season. Also, they lost a player with seven years of experience, one who was anxious to take on a leadership role for the Browns after five starters were either released or left in free agency.
It is likely that Bryant could miss the entire season with the torn pectoral muscle.
“It’s big. It really is,” outside linebacker Paul Kruger said of Bryant’s loss. “That guy is a tremendous player who has a huge impact on each game, and so, he’s just not a guy that you can easily replace. I feel for him. He’s a competitive guy.
“He’s a quiet guy, so you don’t understand much about what’s going on, but I can tell you from being around him every day that he’s competitive. He’s loyal to the team. He works his tail off. It’s really saddening to see him have an injury like that, but we’re going to have to find ways to make up for his injury and regain some momentum with that because that is a big loss for us.”
Currently, the Browns are working second-round pick Emmanuel Ogbah at defensive end in coordinator Ray Horton’s 3-4 defense.
Initially, the plan was for the Browns to switch Ogbah to outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme after he spent three seasons as a defensive end in a 4-3 at Oklahoma State University. However, after spending all of the offseason working out Ogbah at linebacker, he spent the first week of training camp working with the linemen.
“We’ll do whatever we have to do to have a good defensive football team,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said. “We have some guys here on the roster that we’re excited to see and see what they can do for our football team. It’s very unfortunate that it happened with Des because I think he was on his way to having a great season. He had a great offseason, and obviously, that happened away from here so it’s tough.
“At the same time, we know injuries are going to happen. It won’t be the last injury we have. We’re going to -- knock on wood -- hopefully, we don’t have too many, and one thing I will preach to our football team is it’s truly about the next man up. Whoever is that next guy that has got to go, he’s got to go get it done. I know that’s a kind of cliché term, but I think that’s the way you have to approach this and that’s the way our football team will.
“We’re going to try a little bit of everything. We’re going to put our best players out there on defense. Obviously, we are going to try him there. We’re going to put him back at outside linebacker. We’re just trying to find a lot of different combinations now that Des is going to be down to see if we can put our best guys out there.”
Although the Browns have yet to announce who Bryant’s replacement will be in the starting lineup, one thing is for sure. Whoever best showcases his skills in training camp and the preseason will be the one on the field for the opener at the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, September 11th.
“That’s just a part of the NFL game,” Kruger said. “You’re continuously being challenged by guys and your teammates and seeing guys come in and out. How we use that is up to us, whether it’s a positive or negative thing is up to us, so I think we’re going to do our best this year to put guys in the right spots to make the most effective player for the team.”