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Bryant ready to take his shot after losing most of his senior season

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  • Bryant ready to take his shot after losing most of his senior season

    Bryant ready to take his shot after losing most of his senior season to injury
    • By Joe Lyons

    Ohio State safety Christian Bryant was doing what he had done countless times.

    But with 30 seconds left, on the second-to-last defensive play in the Buckeyes’ 31-24 victory over visiting Wisconsin on Sept. 28, Bryant’s college football came to an abrupt halt.

    “I was running to the ball, just like we’re taught to do, when one of my teammates doing the same thing went to make the tackle and landed on my ankle,’’ he recalled. “It was a freak, fluke thing that happened in a split second, but we’re talking about a 250-pound guy. My ankle just wasn’t able to withstand that.’’

    Initially, Bryant, a seventh-round selection by the Rams on Saturday, held out hope.

    “I thought maybe I just rolled it,’’ he said. “But when I tried to get up and run off the field, the ankle gave way. All I could do was wait for the trainers to come get me.’’

    Bryant, a third-year starter and a team captain at Ohio State, suffered a broken fibula and fractured ankle that required season-ending surgery.

    Later that day, in a postgame news conference, Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer pounded the podium while talking about Bryant.

    “We lost our captain,’’ the coach said. “I ask you to keep Christian’s family in your prayers. That darn kid has done so much for our program, he has come so far, incredible leadership skills. I love that guy.’’

    On another occasion, Meyer referred to Bryant as “one of the best safeties in the country’’ and said that his injury prevented the Buckeyes from making a national title run.

    Rams linebacker and former Buckeye James Laurinaitis added: “I know Christian Bryant and talking to (Luke Fickell), the defensive coordinator at Ohio State — we’re still friends from when I played there — he said when Christian went down, he thought that their defense lost their heartbeat and that he was the toughest guy, maybe, that he’s ever coached.’’

    Bryant said comments like that helped energize him as he worked through the rehab process.

    “Seeing the way Coach Meyer and the coaching staff reacted, it kinda made me feel good inside, knowing that they viewed and judged me as such an important part of the team,’’ he said. “It was tough not being out there on the field with my teammates, especially as a senior leader, but I did what I could to help from the sideline, playing somewhat of a coaching role.’’

    After the season, Bryant, who missed nine games last season and five more with a foot injury as a freshman, petitioned the NCAA for medical waiver and another year of eligibility. He was turned down.

    Bryant, a 5-foot-10, 193-pounder who can play anywhere in the secondary, recovered quickly enough to hold a pro day April 30, and he is hoping to participate fully soon with the Rams, who are holding orientation for rookies this weekend and who will begin organized team activities (OTAs) on June 3.

    “I’m able to do a lot, position drills and I’m running full speed, but I’m still not in football shape,’’ he said after Tuesday’s news conference to introduce the team’s draft choices.

    A Cleveland native who played for Ted Ginn Sr. — the father of Arizona Cardinals receiver Ted Ginn Jr. — Bryant started 27 of 36 games with the Buckeyes and was third on the squad in tackles when his season ended. In 2012, he was a second-team All-Big Ten selection after finishing with 70 tackles and 13 passes defended. The tackle total ranked second on the team, behind linebacker Ryan Shazier, who was drafted No. 15 overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers last week.

    The last of six Ohio State players drafted into the NFL over the weekend, Bryant would have probably been a middle-round pick if he had not been injured.

    “It was a tough weekend, mainly I was so anxious, not knowing where I’d end up,’’ he said. “I was getting calls from different teams throughout the day, which was encouraging, but then to finally get the call from the Rams. I’m just thankful and blessed for the opportunity.’’

    Bryant described himself as an instinctive player.

    “I’m a guy who can make an impact, a playmaker who’ll bring a spark to his team,’’ he said. “I feel like I was definitely a steal in this draft because I know my talents and I know exactly what I can do on the football field.’’

    Bryant knows he will have to battle to make the roster. He is the last of four defensive backs added by the Rams in the draft, joining second-rounder Lamarcus Joyner from Florida State, fourth-rounder Maurice Alexander from Utah State (and Eureka High) and sixth-rounder E.J. Gaines from Missouri. Cornerbacks Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson and safeties T.J. McDonald and Rodney McLeod are the projected starters, with Matt Daniels, Cody Davis, Brandon McGee and Darren Woodard as the other returnees. In addition, the Rams signed free agent Greg Reid (Florida State) in the offseason and are bringing in rookie free agents Jarrid Bryant (South Dakota), Avery Cunningham (Central Michigan) and Marcus Roberson (Florida).

    “I’m trying to get a job,’’ Bryant said. “Getting hurt taught me a lot, that I can never take anything for granted in life and that I need to stay faithful throughout every journey that I go on.’’

  • #2
    Re: Bryant ready to take his shot after losing most of his senior season

    I figure that the Rams will keep 7-8 DBs on the roster. There are four who are locks (Jenkins, Johnson, Joyner, McDonald). I'd say that Alexander and Gaines are presumptive favorites for two additional spots. That leave a lot of guys competing for 2 spots (and, perhaps, a couple of practice squad spots). Whoever emerges will definitely have earned their spots on the roster.

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    • #3
      Re: Bryant ready to take his shot after losing most of his senior season

      just keeps on getting better

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Bryant ready to take his shot after losing most of his senior season

        Originally posted by AvengerRam View Post
        I figure that the Rams will keep 7-8 DBs on the roster. There are four who are locks (Jenkins, Johnson, Joyner, McDonald). I'd say that Alexander and Gaines are presumptive favorites for two additional spots. That leave a lot of guys competing for 2 spots (and, perhaps, a couple of practice squad spots). Whoever emerges will definitely have earned their spots on the roster.
        Just as a point of reference, the Rams had 10 DBs on the roster for the start of last season although I think Pointer was released as soon as Pead was reinstated. Of course this has little bearing on this year's squad but I still think they'll look to keep 9:

        CB: Jenkins, Johnson, McGee, Gaines
        S: McDonald, Joyner, Alexander, McLeod, +1

        The plus 1 will be a huge battle between Reid, Daniels, Davis, Bryant and Roberson. Although if push comes to shove I don't think McGee's roster spot will be guaranteed. Just my prediction but should be fun roster battle to keep an eye during preseason.

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