Armonty Bryant, Orchard Expected to Step Up

Armonty Bryant and rookie Nate Orchard are expected to step in for the injured Scott Solomon and provide a needed pass rush along with help in stopping the run

BEREA—Scott Solomon had a meteoric rise in the Browns defensive scheme.

Unfortunately, it only lasted just two plays.

Solomon injured his ankle on the second play of the game against the Jets in the season opener and will miss anywhere from two to six weeks according to an ESPN report. Solomon was in the locker room on Wednesday seen in a walking boot on his right leg. Solomon, who had a tackle in his limited play, was signed to the practice squad on Nov. 18 of last year and then was activated to the active roster on Dec. 20. In the last two games of the 2014 season, Solomon had seven tackles with a sack and a forced fumble. He showed enough  to come into training camp as the starter on the outside opposite of Paul Kruger. 

“We were counting on (Solomon) being one of our better plays against the run, on the edge,” Defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil said. “It was tough on him because that game meant a lot to him because that team (Jets), cut him. He turned the ankle, but he’ll be back.”

Mike Pettine said that he expects rookie Nate Orchard and converted defensive end Armonty Bryant to primarily pick up the slack in Solomon’s absence, and possibly Barkevious Mingo.  Pettine disclosed that Bryant is now spending the majority of his time as an outside linebacker, even before Solomon’s injury.

“(Solomon’s injury) leaves us with Orchard, we consider Armonty an outside backer,” Pettine said. “There are really four guys in that room. Armonty in base defense is almost exclusively playing there. It is nice having him there playing a swing, but for us positionally, he is an outside backer first and then can moonlight when necessary can give us kind of a bonus defensive lineman.”

The Browns had no sacks in the opener and hope they can get a pass rush this week against rookie Marcus Mariota.

Pettine said he’s looking forward to seeing Orchard in his first game.

“We’re all looking forward to Nate getting out there. This is a big opportunity for him. He didn’t put up big numbers, but he got a lot of pluses [on the grade sheet]. He did his job. Very much looking forward to having him get out there. It’s his first NFL game. I think we’re all curious to see how he’ll respond. If it’s how he’s practiced, how he’s prepared himself, then I think it’ll be a positive result.”

 Orchard said he’s ready.

 “It is unfortunate with what happened to Scott getting rolled up in that pile,” Orchard said. “I can only control what I can control. I am just going to keep working hard in practice.”

Orchard was drafted in the second-round (51st overall), primarily due to his pass rush ability. Orchard led the nation in sacks per game with 18.5 on the season.

“That is one of the reasons they brought me here to set the edge and help with the run defense before getting to the quarterback,” Orchard said. “It is something I loved doing in college and I think I can contribute.”

 After being inactive for the season opener coming back from back issues, Orchard views this as his opportunity to show what he can do.

“Definitely,” he said. “It is an opportunity for myself so I need to go out there and make the most of it. I need to practice hard and show that I deserve to be out there.”

O’Neil said he’s expecting a lot from Bryant and Orchard.

“Armonty Bryant did some good things out there and we’re counting on Nate Orchard,” O’Neil said. 

O’Neil was asked to describe Orchard.

“(He’s) heavy-handed,” he said. “He’s stronger than what people probably give him credit for. He’s a very good football player , instinctively, against the run or in coverage. Glad he’s healthy, he’s back and he’s looked good in practice. I’m excited he’s back healthy, back feeling good.”

When Solomon was injured early in the game, Bryant was forced into extensive action for the first time at outside linebacker and finished with three tackles.

“There was one play where he got hung on a block a little bit long and the ball ended up bouncing outside,” Pettine said. “Outside of that, I thought he handled himself pretty well. He played more than because of what you just said. Because of Scott going out, he played more than what we expected him to play. He stepped in and knew what to do. It was good experience for him to get. With Orchard up now, those reps will get spread a little bit more throughout the room. He was solid.”

 Pettine said the transition from defensive line to outside linebacker has been pretty smooth for Bryant.

“I think it is pretty good,” he said. “He has lost some weight. Last year, we would have said he was better rushing over guards. We will still do that some with him, but we will be more inclined to keep him on the outside now.”

Bryant said he feels he and Orchard will be able to step in and play well.

“It’s up to me and Nate to do come in and do the job for (Solomon),” he said. “Nate looks good doing what he’s doing. I mean, he really looks good. I’m trying to help him any way I can, but he’s going to be fine.” 

 Mingo is listed as the backup to Solomon, but most of the talk as Solomon’s replacement was about the other two. Pettine was asked how Mingo performed in the season opener.

“He was OK. Couple mistakes,” Pettine said. “To me, he will always be mismatched from a weight standpoint so he has to better with his pad level. I thought he handled things fairly well, given what his circumstances were.”

Mingo was the sixth overall draft pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, but missed most all of the preseason after having arthroscopic surgery on his knee. He was credited with two tackles and batted down a pass.

Extra Points

Pettine Expects Bowe to Play: Pettine said that he expects WR Dwayne Bowe to play this week. He is still listed on the injury report with a hamstring injury and was inactive last week.

“Dwayne seems to have progressed from the hamstring. He put in a good day yesterday so we’ll see how the rest of the week plays out.”

 DeFilippo said he thought Bowe is looking better and is on “an upward curve.”

The only other player on the side working with the training staff was LB Karlos Dansby, who is “day-to-day” with a foot injury.

Turbin sets Sight on Chargers: Newly signed RB Robert Turbin said he hopes to make his debut with the Browns in Week Four in San Diego against the Chargers. He was on the field working with the trainers on Thursday.

“Still a few weeks out,” Turbin said. “I’m hoping that I can get back for the Chargers game and maybe even a week later when we play Baltimore. Just kind of depends on how rehab goes.”

Turbin suffered a high ankle sprain on Aug. 29 and the Seahawks placed him on injured reserve. However, Turbin received an injury settlement and was claimed by the Browns. Turbin admitted he was surprised that the Browns claimed him.

 “It caught us by surprise,” he said. “Maybe not, didn’t think I was going to get claimed and that’s what we were preparing for. We were preparing for that opportunity to become a free agent. The Browns claimed me and we were both extremely excited about the opportunity and I’m just glad to be here.”

Turbin said he feels he can be a stabilizing influence in the running back room.

“I’ve been in the league a little longer than those guys so I think I can bring a certain level of leadership,” Turbin said. “I come from a winning background and I can provide an atmosphere, show them some of the things that it takes to be able to get to that level and play at that level, and be in those big games. That’s what I’m looking to do, just be the best leader I can be in that room.”

Pettine said he has been a big fan of Turbin’s for quite some time, proven by the fact the Browns claimed him even though he wouldn’t be able to play for up to a month.

“It’s huge, its huge,” he said. “He obviously knows the position I’m in as far as being injured so for him to go out and still bring me on to this team really says a lot about how he feels about the type of player I am and what I can bring to the team. Hopefully the way he feels is exactly what I can bring.”

Bryant, Robertson Win Belt: O’Neil has a weekly competition and gives out an award each week for the defensive player that has the most defensive good plays. He said that LB Craig Robertson and DL Desmond Bryant each had four “Play Like a Brown” plays. O’Neil gives out one Championship Belt at the end of the season. He said DB Donte Whitner won the award last year.

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