Heading into the 2016 season, the Cleveland Browns were looking at veteran defensive lineman and outside linebacker Desmond Bryant as somebody who was doing to step into a leadership role as a core member of the team. He started 29 games over the two previous seasons, and frankly, they didn’t really have anybody else.
He suffered a season-ending injury, however, and now, a year later, they have released him. Having spent the previous four seasons with the Browns, he played his role, but evidently no longer fits under their new scheme under Gregg Williams and in a crowded room of edge defenders.
It’s interesting that they replaced him with Brandon Thompson, who was just released by the Cincinnati Bengals. Thompson, a third-round pick back in 2012, is a guy that I liked coming out of the draft. The Bengals envisioned him as being an important part of their future, but a torn ACL suffered at the end of the 2015 season seems to have left him not quite the same player.
Had that not happened, he may have entered the starting lineup full-time last year, but they ended up moving on, ultimately. That included drafting Andrew Billings, another defensive tackle, who happened to suffer a torn ACL during his rookie season. Billings is currently making a play for a starting job.
Now the Browns add Thompson to the mix in their interior defense, and it’s probably not coincidental timing, with starting nose tackle Danny Shelton missing time due to injury. His status for the season opener against the Steelers may be in jeopardy.
Thompson joins a defensive interior that includes the likes of Jamie Meder and rookies Larry Ogunjobi and Caleb Brantley hoping to vie for roles and roster spots. The former Bengal at least adds something of a more veteran presence, though it’s certainly not clear if they are expecting him to make the team or are just giving him an opportunity.
In other Browns news, as mentioned yesterday, they lost projected starter Tank Carder to a torn ACL, and they are anticipating second-year man Joe Schobert to step in and take his place in the starting lineup after moving from outside linebacker to inside.
Head Coach Hue Jackson also said previously that he was hoping to reach a decision about who the team’s starting quarterback would be heading into the regular season. At the moment, it appears to be between Brock Osweiler, whom they acquired via trade, and rookie DeShone Kizer, though Cody Kessler could still surprise.
The timing makes sense, as the next preseason game is the ‘tune-up’ game in which teams prepare their starters to play an extended amount and incorporate some superficial game-planning. It would be wise to include your starting quarterback in that process. So today’s presumed reveal will be highly relevant to the Steelers’ interest come September 10.