Armonty Bryant Switching from D-Line to Outside Linebacker Pays Off

Armonty Bryant switched from defensive lineman to outside linebacker and led the Browns with 2.5 sacks against the Titans

BEREA—The experiment appears to be a success.

The Browns made the decision in the off-season to move third-year defensive lineman Armonty Bryant to outside linebacker just before training camp. Bryant spent the first two years of his career with the Browns as a defensive lineman, including last season, the first in Mike Pettine’s defensive system. To complicate matters, Bryant is coming off a torn ACL, which limited him to just five games in 2014.

“During the summer there was a little bit of talk about it,” Bryant said. “And when I finally reported (to training camp), they made the switch official.”

Bryant (6-4, 265) said he dropped five to 10 pounds over the summer for the position switch. Bryant was showing promise rushing from the inside before tearing his ACL in the first quarter against the Steelers on Oct. 12. He finished the season with just 11 tackles and a sack. In his rookie season of 2013, Bryant played in 12 games with 20 tackles and two sacks. 

Bryant had his coming out party on Sunday against the Titans as he had six tackles, 2.5 sacks and  three quarterback hits. In addition, he had a tackle for loss and a forced fumble. The Browns had seven sacks on Marcus Mariota and knocked him down a total of 11 times.

“We stayed relentless in our pass rush and our job was to get after the quarterback, no matter what,” he said. “We didn’t stop until we got him down.”

Bryant said he thinks the pressure on Mariota wore him down as the game went on.

“I saw him getting up slower and slower,” he said. “It did affect him as the game went on.”

Bryant played a much bigger role with Scott Solomon missing with an ankle injury. Bryant played 55 snaps for 69 percent of the defensive plays. Bryant said he’s used to playing outside linebacker and is just working to be stronger against the run.

“Just basically set the edge,” Bryant said. “I want to be as physical as I can. I’m definitely (learning), be a work in progress and try to get better every day one step at a time.”

Bryant was drafted in the seventh-round by the Browns (217th overall) in the 2013 NFL Draft out of East Central College. He said he enjoys being back on the outside at linebacker.

“Yes I do (like playing linebacker),” he said. “I like rushing the edge a lot. It feels good being back out there (out on the outside).

 “When I was in college, I played a lot on the outside and setting the edge and it was something I was used to. When I came here, I moved inside, so now it’s just getting back to where I started.”


McCown or Manziel?

As expected, Pettine was not ready to announce his decision on who will be the quarterback when QB Josh McCown is cleared from the NFL’s concussion protocol. Manziel put up a 133.9 rating in his 8-of-15 for 172 yard performance, including two touchdowns. He was sacked twice, fumbling both times, but the Browns recovered both.

Pettine said the staff will meet on Monday night and talk about the quarterback position moving forward.

“We will have the “what if” discussion Monday night,” Pettine said referring to if and when McCown is cleared. 

Pettine said the coaches aren’t worried about seeing if Manziel is the long term starter for the Browns. 

“We’re tasked with winning football games,” Pettine said. “The decisions we make are  based on what gives us the best chance to win Sunday. We’re not going to use the season and look at it that way to find out, we feel over the course of the season (if he can be the Browns quarterback) will play itself out.

“My concern is what is on the inside of the building,” he said. “Our task at hand is who gives us the best chance to win.”

Pettine said it’s a positive that Manziel has played his way into the discussion.

“That’s fair and that’s a good thing,” Pettine said. “Johnny’s made a lot of progress. The arrow is pointing up.”

Pettine said he will rely on quarterbacks coach Kevin O’Connell and offensive coordinator John DeFilippo in deciding who will start against the Raiders next Sunday.

“We’ll put it all on the table and talk about it.”

Mingo, Des Bryant Update

Pettine said he doesn’t expect LB Barkevious Mingo (knee) or DL Desmond Bryant (shoulder) to miss game time. He said that Bryant might miss some practice time this week, but thinks he will be alright by the end of the week. He said Mingo “should be fine” and ready for practice.

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