Bryant Boosts End Depth
By Nick Wagoner
The Rams wasted no time in filling the empty roster spot vacated by traded defensive end Anthony Hargrove.
St. Louis signed defensive end Tony Bryant to a contract late Tuesday and he was with the team and working out Wednesday afternoon. For the Rams, it ended a short search to add a fourth defensive end to the roster.
For Bryant, it ended a much longer search for employment after New Orleans released him at the end of training camp.
“I knew that one day somebody was going to call,” Bryant said. “Every week, I was going on different workouts.”
Those workouts took him to a list of places longer than the list of places he didn’t visit. Stops in San Francisco, Tennessee and back to New Orleans. But none of those places offered him a chance to get back in the league.
“I've been all over,” Bryant said. “Every week, it was like another team was bringing me in.”
Finally, a familiar face called for Bryant and invited him to St. Louis this week. He happily hopped on a place to visit the Rams and defensive coordinator Jim Haslett.
Bryant spent the past two seasons playing for Haslett in New Orleans and when he got the call for a potential reunion with his former coach, he jumped at it.
“I'm glad,” Bryant said. “When I saw him, I was excited. From what we went through last year in New Orleans, just being a part of all that, going through that with him.”
Bryant holds a special place for Haslett, who helped rescue him from the scrap heap after a neck injury cost him over a year of football. Oakland released Bryant after the injury and he was left wondering if he’d play again. Enter Haslett, who took a shot on the muscular 6-6, 282 pounder.
“When I left Oakland, I sat out a year, and he gave me the opportunity to come back and prove myself,” Bryant said. “That was big.”
Besides his tremendous size, Bryant has proved himself talented enough to make a difference on the field as well. In 82 career games, he has racked up 23.5 sacks, six forced fumbles, a pair of fumble recoveries and 182 tackles.
Bryant has also proved to be a solid special teams player, earning NFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors in 2004 for blocking a potential game-winning field goal for the Panthers.
After his long wait for another shot in the league, Bryant is happy to be back in the game. Although the Rams have Leonard Little, Victor Adeyanju and Brandon Green ahead of him in the defensive end rotation, Bryant could have an impact sooner than later because of his intimate knowledge of Haslett’s defense.
“Just watching film, all the defenses they were calling out, I was like, 'Yeah, I remember that,'” Bryant said. “I should pick it up real easy.”