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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.

        Comment

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        • MauiRam
          Roberson sets sights on making mark with Rams
          by MauiRam
          • By Joe Lyons

          Marcus Roberson refuses to let what happened — or didn’t happen — during last month’s NFL draft hold him back.

          “You can’t control the uncontrollable,’’ said Roberson, a former University of Florida cornerback who wasn’t picked and signed with the Rams as a free agent shortly after the draft. “My opportunity is here and now and it’s up to me to try and make the best of it. My focus is on making the team and doing whatever I can to help the Rams.’’

          Roberson, who stands 6 feet and weighs 190 pounds, was highly touted coming into the draft, with some “experts’’ viewing him as a possible second- or third-round selection. But after three days and seven rounds, he still was available. He said he drew interest from several teams before deciding to sign with the Rams.

          “I felt like this was a place where I could fit in well,’’ said Roberson, who received a $15,000 signing bonus. “It’s a good system with a great coaching staff that can teach me a lot. I played in an NFL-type scheme at Florida and that’s helped with the transition. Still, learning the plays and the terminology’s a little different. But I definitely feel like I’m catching on and getting more comfortable every day.’’

          The Rams, who held their first of 10 organized team activities Tuesday at Rams Park, addressed a need by adding a number of cornerbacks in the offseason, including sixth-round draft pick E.J. Gaines from Missouri as well as rookie free agents Roberson and Greg Reid (Florida State). Holdovers at the position are starters Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson, plus backups Brandon McGee and Darren Woodward.

          In addition, second-round draft pick Lamarcus Joyner (Florida State) and rookie free agent Jarrid Bryant (South Dakota) are listed as defensive backs, capable off playing corner or safety.

          “It’s a strong group,’’ Roberson said. “But competition is what pushes you to get better.’’

          Spirited competition is nothing new for Roberson, a product of perennial national prep power St. Thomas Aquinas High in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

          It led all high schools in drafted players this year, with four — Joyner by the Rams in the second round, Wisconsin safety Dezmen Southward by the Falcons in the third round, Miami guard Brandon Linder by the Jaguars in the third round and Wisconsin running back James White by the Patriots in the fourth round.

          In 2010, when Roberson was a junior, Aquinas went 15-0, captured the Class 5A title and ended up ranked third nationally.

          “We were pretty good,’’ the soft-spoken Roberson said. “It’s a private Catholic school program coached by the great George Smith. He’s a great coach and I really enjoyed my time playing there.’’

          So who was the true shutdown cornerback on that squad, Joyner, the senior, or Roberson, the junior?

          “No, we both were good,’’ Roberson said,...
          -06-03-2014, 10:58 PM
        • Nick
          Rams safety Christian Bryant aims to follow Rodney McLeod's path
          by Nick
          Rams safety Christian Bryant aims to follow Rodney McLeod's path
          6:41 PM ET
          Nick Wagoner
          ESPN Staff Writer

          OXNARD, Calif. -- Of the many observers in NFL free agency this year, Los Angeles Rams safety Christian Bryant might have been among the most interested.

          First, Bryant considers fellow safety Rodney McLeod a friend, and as McLeod approached his first taste of unrestricted free agency, Bryant wanted the best for him. But Bryant also had personal reasons to monitor McLeod's status.

          Bryant spent the past two years recovering from an ankle injury and working his way from the practice squad to special-teams contributor on the active roster. With dreams of contributing on defense, Bryant was also well aware that if McLeod departed, it could open doors that were previously closed.

          When McLeod signed a five-year, $37 million deal with the Philadelphia Eagles, those doors came swinging open.

          "I was watching it, I was watching the whole free-agent process to be honest with you, just to see what types of moves would be made," Bryant said. "But I’m happy for Rod. He’s a hard-working guy. Over these past two seasons that I’ve been with him, I’ve seen him work hard nonstop and he’s been a good example for me. Just to see him go on and get that big contract, it’s a blessing for him but it’s opening new doors for me every day. I’ve just got to try to continue to do what I’m doing, making strides and taking steps forward every single day."

          The goal, of course, is for Bryant to take the ultimate step and claim the job McLeod left behind. That might seem like a long shot from the outside, but the same was once true of McLeod -- a former undrafted rookie who slowly worked his way to the starting job and, eventually, a lucrative free-agent contract.

          After allowing McLeod to depart, the Rams showed little urgency to find an outside replacement. They visited with veteran safeties Dashon Goldson and Donte Whitner, both of whom remain available, but for now coach Jeff Fisher and Co. seem intent on letting in-house options Bryant and Cody Davis attempt to stake a claim to the job.

          “It’s a good group," Fisher said. "Christian Bryant is coming on, really taking advantage of this opportunity. Cody understands the position; he’s got some game experience. We’ve got a couple young guys that we’ll have to look at in a game, when things are live and they are in a pressure situation.”

          That's an opportunity Bryant is excited to embrace as he and Davis have been rotating with the first-team defense during organized team activities.

          "Competition in an organization is always good because each player always finds some way to get better," Bryant said. "It’s a friendly competition but at the end of the day, this is our job so I’m looking to make all the right plays on the field to make that next...
          -06-10-2016, 08:23 AM
        • MauiRam
          Rams rookie Bryant: 'I was definitely a steal in this draft'
          by MauiRam
          By Nate Latsch

          Christian Bryant knows it's impossible to say how the NFL Draft would have unfolded had he not suffered a season-ending injury early last fall. But of this much he's sure: He wouldn't have lasted until the seventh round.

          "I feel like if I wouldn't have got injured this year, it probably would have been a whole different story going into the draft," he said. "But there's certain things in life that you can't control and God has a plan for you."

          Bryant broke his fibula and dislocated his ankle in a Sept. 28 win against Wisconsin. The Ohio State safety missed the final nine games of his senior season, forcing him to watch from the sideline as the undefeated and second-ranked Buckeyes lost their final two games.

          Bryant requested a medical hardship to play another year of college football, but the NCAA said no. And so he entered the draft with little to show for his final collegiate season -- not an ideal audition for a career when you're already undersized at 5 feet 10, 193 pounds.

          And so it was that 240 players were selected before the Rams tabbed him late in Round 7.

          "It's been tough, I feel like, just because just this whole year has kind of been a struggle with first the injury, and then I just know that going into the draft it was going to be a struggle with someone eventually picking me up," Bryant said minutes after St. Louis selected him. "I waited it out and I'm just happy to be a St. Louis Ram right now."

          Bryant was the fourth defensive back the Rams picked, following Lamarcus Joyner (second round), Maurice Alexander (fourth) and E.J. Gaines (sixth). He will face a challenge to earn a roster spot in a secondary that returns four starters.

          But the Rams obviously saw something they liked.

          "He's a good little football player," Rams coach Jeff Fisher said after the draft.

          Bryant said he was surprised to be picked by the Rams, but maybe he shouldn't have been. He had a one-on-one conversation with Fisher following his April 30 pro day at Ohio State.

          "We were sitting there in the hallway," Bryant said. "We talked for about six or seven minutes. He was just telling me little things like he liked my game. And he told me the second-best thing in life behind having a child is getting a call from an NFL team telling you you're part of that organization."

          The next time Bryant and Fisher spoke, Bryant had just found out that the Rams were going to pick him. It was a dream come true for a player who had encountered some rather large obstacles and was just hoping for a shot. But at the same time, he believes his talent merited a higher selection.

          "I feel like I was definitely a steal in this draft," he said, "because I know my talents and I know exactly what I can do...
          -05-30-2014, 09:59 AM
        • MauiRam
          From jail time to Rams Park for rookie Reid
          by MauiRam
          By Jim Thomas

          Even on a Rams offseason roster that numbers 90 players, every player has a story to tell. But none are as compelling as that of cornerback Greg Reid this offseason.

          He was a star in a star-studded Florida State secondary two years ago, then was dismissed from the program because of off-field issues. Next came two surgeries — about 8-9 months apart — on his left knee. As a “topper” he spent more than a week in jail for a probation violation just a few days after signing with the Rams in late March.

          “It’s a lesson learned,” Reid told the Post-Dispatch earlier this week. “After going through all that, and understanding the opportunity that a lot of kids have out here — well, a lot of men have out here now — it’s a blessing.

          “Now, I know how to handle myself and leave everything in God’s hand and become a man. I understand that it doesn’t get any better than playing in the NFL.”

          Within a week of signing with the Rams, Reid was a passenger in a car that was pulled over by police in his hometown of Valdosta, Ga., because the driver was not wearing a seatbelt. In the process of running record checks on everyone in the car, Reid was found to be in violation of probation for a past marijuana-related arrest.

          As a result of the probation violation, he spent part of his spring in the Lowndes County (Ga.) jail.

          “In Valdosta, my name is very popular,” Reid said. “So they didn’t want to treat me any different than anybody else. Things happen in your life where you have to mature and be humble about it.”

          After spending parts of 10 days in jail, Reid had a renewed appreciation for the comfort of sleeping in your own bed or the pleasure of sitting down to a good meal. The jail food, he said with a laugh, was “disgusting.”

          “I feel like I was never a bad person,” Reid added. “I maybe was kind of young and stupid.”

          After doing his research on Reid, coach Jeff Fisher came to the conclusion that he was at least worth a look.

          “We were aware of everything that was going on, even prior to when the news came out (of the probation issue),” Fisher said. “He was in a situation where he was gonna go clean up some personal issues. And we knew that was required so it didn’t come as a surprise to us.

          “He knows this is an opportunity — maybe not his last — but it’s an opportunity for him and he’s gonna take advantage of it. He’s taken care of his body. He’s gained about eight or 10 pounds since coming here. He’s gonna get a chance to prove himself quite a bit in preseason.”

          During the pre-draft process, a couple of former Seminoles teammates — cornerback/safety Lamarcus Joyner and safety Terrance Brooks — both made pre-draft visits to Rams Park. Fisher took advantage of the visits to ask both draft prospects about Reid.

          “And each one of ’em said what a great guy...
          -06-13-2014, 01:36 AM
        • MauiRam
          Get to know a rookie: Marcus Roberson
          by MauiRam
          By Nick Wagoner

          We’ve officially reached the closest thing to a dead period the NFL has to offer these days as organized team activities are over and training camp has not yet arrived.

          That means vacation time for the players, coaches and, yes, reporters. In the meantime, let’s get to know some of the lesser-known additions to the Rams' roster: the rookie free agents.

          Marcus Roberson
          Position: Cornerback
          College: University of Florida
          Height: 6-0
          Weight: 191 pounds


          Stat to know: After earning playing time as a freshman, Roberson had his best season as a sophomore when he finished second in the Southeastern Conference in pass breakups with 12. He added a pair of interceptions and a forced fumble in what would be his best season. That was 2012, so it's been a little while since Roberson produced at that level. But he flashed enough promise to make him the type of prospect that intrigued many draft pundits after that season and into this year.

          Road to the roster: A long and lean corner more known for his zone skills and work in off-coverage, Roberson may not be the ideal fit for what defensive coordinator Gregg Williams wants to do, but it should be noted that Williams has a history of making it work with players of all abilities. The Rams have room for a young corner to earn his way to the roster and Roberson could be that type of player after injuries and off-field issues pushed him from a potential Day 2 pick to undrafted rookie. Janoris Jenkins, Trumaine Johnson and Lamarcus Joyner are the only corners that appear to be locked in to roster spots. From there, the Rams will likely keep one or two more with Roberson having to overcome the likes of Brandon McGee, E.J. Gaines, Greg Reid and Darren Woodard to land a spot on the 53-man roster out of training camp.
          -06-22-2014, 03:12 PM
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