BEREA, Ohio — Armonty Bryant starts his NFL career in a tough spot.
On strike two. And a half.
He has no one to blame but himself.
Arrested last fall on campus at East Central Oklahoma University, Bryant got arrested again last week near campus — for DUI — just six days after the Cleveland Browns selected him in the seventh round of the NFL Draft. He pled no contest earlier this week.
On Thursday, he made his first trip to Cleveland. On Friday, he participated in his first NFL practice as the Browns rookie minicamp officially began.
On the practice field is where Bryant will have to make the strongest impression; guys on strike two-and-a-half have to be better than just OK. But his first stop upon arrival at Browns Headquarters was the office of head coach Rob Chudzinski, where Bryant got a stern talking-to.
And came to the realization that he was fortunate just to be hearing what he was hearing and getting fitted for his first weekend of NFL action.
“We discussed all the options and ultimately decided that we wanted to bring him in and sit down and talk to him,” Chudzinski said.
Said Bryant: “I was concerned this wouldn’t happen. I’m just fortunate the Browns had faith in me. Hopefully I’ll be able to (earn) a spot on the 53-man roster.”
Last fall, Bryant was suspended after he was arrested for selling marijuana to an undercover officer in a campus parking lot. He spent the pre-draft process — which included participating in the NFL Scouting Combine, a prized invite for a Div. II player — explaining that arrest and what he’d learned from it. He told Cleveland media on a conference call the day he was drafted that with a “second chance…I won’t let anyone down.”
Bryant declined to share many details of his most recent arrest or of what Chudzinski might have told him behind closed doors. He did say his free time in the near future will be spent “locked in the room reading the playbook or playing video games, keeping to myself.”
Those would be wise choices. He’d be even wiser to string a few such choices together.
In regard to expectations going forward, “I understand them,” Bryant said.
“You have to give guys every chance, every opportunity,” Chudinzski said. “I feel really good about the structure that weíll have around him to give him every chance. Heíll be evaluated consistently and constantly just like all our players are, and time will tell.”
The Browns believe that the best thing for Bryant, right now, is to be busy. Over the next few weeks, anyway, he’ll be that — and even if there’s little margin for error, he’ll get a chance to prove on the field that he’s a project worth seeing through.