After knee injury, big Red Bryant back for Seattle

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RENTON, Wash. (AP)

The first time the Seattle Seahawks put on pads during training camp, second-year offensive tackle Russell Okung locked up with Red Bryant during a drill.

Try telling Okung that the burly defensive end had major knee surgery less than a year ago.

''Big Red is Big Red. He's going to give it to you,'' Okung said. ''One thing I love about Red is he's going to come at you every snap.''

Just nine months after right knee surgery, Bryant has practiced without restrictions early in camp - minus the occasional day off, like the one he received Tuesday.

When coach Pete Carroll took over the Seahawks, Bryant seemed to be on his way out. He had not developed into the run-stuffing defensive tackle the Seahawks were looking for when they drafted him out of Texas A&M. But Carroll thought Bryant still could be useful and shifted him to defensive end, hoping his 340-pound frame at the edge of the line of scrimmage would help Seattle's run defense and free up room for linebackers to make plays.

It worked for the first two months of last season, when the Seahawks were among the best teams in the NFL at stopping the run.

That all changed on Oct. 31 when Bryant was injured against Oakland. The 6-foot-4 Bryant was lost for the year when teammate Chris Clemons crashed into his right knee while trying to make a tackle in the second quarter. Bryant tore the medial collateral ligament in his knee and underwent surgery in November.

''I think he's going to be fantastic. The things that he showed us last year will only be more impacting this year,'' Carroll said. ''We'll utilize him better. He's more experienced at what we want and he's a big man that plays really hard, so we're expecting really big things from him.''

The lockout threw a wrench into Bryant's plans, but he said the lack of offseason conditioning programs organized by the team and minicamps actually helped in his recovery. He's also down about five pounds - to 335 - from where he played most of last season. He hopes he can get into the 320s before this season's opener.

''It's not where I would like it to be but I know it will be a progress,'' Bryant said. ''Not being able to have OTAs and things of that nature helped me a little bit. I think they're doing a great job of bringing me along.''

When all of the Seahawks' free-agent signings are allowed on the field starting Thursday, Bryant will see a new look on Seattle's defensive line.

Brandon Mebane will move over to nose tackle, while newcomer Alan Branch will get the first shot at the ''3 technique'' defensive tackle in Seattle's scheme. Bryant remains on the outside, but he'll have depth help from returning defensive end Kentwan Balmer and newcomer Jimmy Wilkerson, who agreed to a deal on Tuesday.

Chris Clemons returns on the other side, although Carroll revealed Tuesday that Clemons had ankle surgery in the offseason. His limited participation in training camp, so far, is due to an infection from the surgery. Bryant will continue to get breaks as he did on Tuesday in the hope of keeping him fresh ahead of the season opener.

''Anybody coming off of a new knee needs the extra rest,'' Carroll said. ''He'll be able to work really hard and he'll be calling at us to put him back out there, but we'll keep him off the field just to make sure that we tempo it right and get him through camp and have him right when we get started in the regular season against San Francisco.''

Tagged: Seahawks, Chris Clemons, Red Bryant, Russell Okung

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