Red Bryant's return to the Seahawks is as big as he is
The Seahawks' run defense took a big hit when the 6-foot-4, 330-pounder defensive end was sidelined with an injury last season.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Seahawks @ Denver,
6 p.m., Ch. 5
RENTON — The big fellow's return was as subtle as an open-field tackle.
Well, actually it was Red Bryant's open-field tackle of a teammate during practice last week that made it clear the defensive end was ready to go.
"When he tackled Dominique Byrd about 25 yards downfield full speed, we realized that Red was officially back," coach Pete Carroll said.
That is a good thing for the Seahawks though not necessarily for Byrd, a backup tight end. At least not for that one play at practice last week.
There might not be a bigger player on Seattle's defense than Bryant, something as figuratively true as it is literally accurate. The 6-foot-4, 330-pound defensive end's presence made all the difference in the run defense last year.
That is evident by simply looking at the rushing yards Seattle allowed in the 6 ½ games Bryant played and what happened after he left Seattle's Oct. 31 loss in Oakland during the second quarter.
He never returned last season, and Seattle's run defense never really recovered.
Bryant was on the field when training camp opened last month, but took more than a week off before Seattle's first exhibition game to take care of his knee. He played in the first half of Saturday's exhibition game against Minnesota, and his impact could be seen in the statistics. The Vikings ran for 28 yards in the first half, averaging 2.8 per carry. Minnesota averaged 6.7 yards per carry in the second half after the starters left.
What makes Bryant's significance so surprising is he was an afterthought his first two years with the Seahawks. A fourth-round pick from Texas A&M in 2008, he underwent knee surgery during training camp his rookie year and played four regular-season games. He played six games his second year.
In the midst of Seattle's housecleaning under Carroll last year, Bryant was the unexpected discovery. Seattle moved him to the defensive-end slot across from the strongside of the opponent's line, and just like that, Seattle had itself a linchpin.
What made that switch so effective?
"He's huge, for one," Carroll said. "That starts there, but he runs well, too. He gets up and goes. He can chase the football."
Really? It's the way he moves?
"Red is a freak athlete," said Todd Wash, Seattle's new defensive-line coach. "How big he is, how well he runs."
Still not convinced? Listen to nose tackle Brandon Mebane, who lines up next to Bryant on Seattle's defensive line.
"Red can take a basketball, throw it off the backboard, spin in the air and dunk it," Mebane said.
Wait, what? This guy who is Seattle's second-heaviest defensive lineman according to the official roster can perform a 360-degree dunk?
"I've seen him do it," Mebane said.
It's true, Bryant said.
"It's just something that you have to see," Bryant said. "A lot of people, they look at you just because you're big and they don't think you can move around out there."
That's no longer a question about Bryant. At least not in Seattle, and he's returned this season intent upon building on last season.
"It's a good starting point," he said. "I've still got a lot of goals, a lot of things I want to accomplish. I just got a good start in six games, but by no means have I arrived yet."
But he's getting there in a hurry. Just ask anyone who witnessed last week's downfield tackle of a teammate during practice.
"Red's alive and well," Carroll said. "When you're cooling Red down that's when you like him the most."
Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or firstname.lastname@example.org
|Red Bryant limped off the field on Oct. 31 in Oakland after suffering a season-ending knee injury in the final 2 minutes of the first half. He never returned, and Seattle never really recovered. His stats before and after the injury:|
|Yds per carry||3.36||4.68|
|Yds per game||82.6||130.1|
Trending on seattletimes.com
Most viewed photo galleries
The Morning Memo
The Morning Memo jump starts your day with weather, traffic and news
Career Center Blog
Your Opinion Matters
Take our survey and enter to win $100. Enter Now!