Troubled Bryant getting second chance with Browns
BEREA, Ohio (AP) - Armonty Bryant was afraid his NFL career had ended before it even started.
The Browns, though, are giving the troubled seventh-round draft pick one more chance - his last chance.
Arrested last week for driving under the influence in Oklahoma, Bryant, who also had a felony drug charge last October while in college, participated Friday with Cleveland's other new players and undrafted free agents on the first day of Cleveland's rookie mini-camp.
But before taking the field, Bryant met with Browns coach Rob Chudzinski and apologized.
"He's very remorseful for the things that have happened,'' Chudzinski said following practice. "He understands me and what I expect from him and is ready to make amends.''
Bryant, who was given a deferred one-year jail sentence after pleading no contest to the DUI charge, said he feared the Browns might cut ties with him following his latest arrest. Meeting with reporters after the workout was moved indoors by thunderstorms, he vowed to make it up to the Browns - and not disappoint them again.
"I'm just fortunate the Browns still have faith in me,'' the soft-spoken Bryant said. "Hopefully I can win a spot on this 53-man roster. I just made a stupid mistake at the time. But now I'm just going to let my actions speak for me.''
Bryant was arrested last Friday near the football stadium at East Central University, where he starred for the Division II program. His blood-alcohol level was 0.098 percent - over the state legal limit of 0.08. As part of his sentence, Bryant is required to attend a victim impact panel, obtain a substance abuse assessment and pay $1,136 in court costs.
The Browns knew they were taking a risk when they drafted the 6-foot-4, 263-pound Bryant, who was arrested last year for twice selling marijuana to an undercover police officer on campus.
Chudzinski said the Browns discussed all of their options - including releasing Bryant - before deciding to have him report to camp.
"It's a serious matter,'' the Browns' first-year coach said. "Now that Armonty's gotten here I had a chance to sit down with him and talk about my expectations and make those expectations clear with him. I feel like we have a good support structure here and I feel like we have good guys in the locker room, some guys that were excellent mentors that any player that follows their example - if you look at D'Qwell Jackson, if you look at Davone Bess and those guys - will learn how to be a professional.
"Ultimately, Armonty needs to show that he's going to be accountable and I expect that out of him.''
Bryant said he has made lifestyle changes in the wake of his latest criminal charges.
He understands that he can't make another mistake. His recent, self-inflicted difficulties have put an uncomfortable spotlight on him and he knows there can be no more missteps or his dream of playing pro football will be over.
"It's been tough lately,'' said Bryant, who added he apologized to Chudzinski "multiple'' times. "I've just been able to move forward with it, the whole situation and thankfully the Browns still have faith in me and they just let me come out here and have a second chance. ... I'm a football player and I came here to play football, so that's what I'm going to do.''
After the Browns selected Bryant with the first of their two picks in the seventh round, he pledged to have moved on from his legal problems, saying "good people make mistakes.'' But before he put on his orange helmet for the first time he was arrested again.
Chudzinski was asked if he thought Bryant's apology was sincere.
"Time will tell,'' he said. "You have to give guys every chance, every opportunity, and I feel really good about the structure that we'll have around him to give him every chance. He'll be evaluated consistently and constantly just like all our players are, and time will tell.''
Grateful for his second chance, Bryant knows he must show the Browns he can play at a high level and behave.
"I still have a lot to prove,'' he said. "I'm still a D-2 pick, so you know, I'll always have that chip on my shoulder. This just makes it a bigger chip.''
NOTES: During practice, all eyes were on first-round pick Barkevious Mingo, the No. 6 overall selection from LSU. Mingo's listed weight is 240 and there has been discussion about whether he needs to bulk up. Mingo broke up laughing when he was asked if he thought he was skinny. "aw, I think I'm just fine the way I am,'' he said. Chudzinski said it's possible the Browns will ask Mingo to add some weight. "That remains to be seen,'' he said. "Different guys have different body types and different weights they play the best at.'' ... Cornerback Joe Haden and linebacker Paul Kruger were engaged spectators as both have younger brothers trying out. Josh Haden is a running back and Dave Kruger is a defensive lineman. "The big brothers were real interested in those guys,'' Chudzinski said. ... Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, whose Pilot Flying J truck-stop chain is under federal investigation for fraud, watched part of practice.
SI Now Live Friday December 20, 2013
SI Now: Olympians on Liberty Mutual, gearing up for Sochi