Desmond Bryant finds himself as something of the elder statesman in the Browns defensive line room these days. The 30-year-old is entering his fourth season in Cleveland and first under Hue Jackson, whom players and coaches say has brought a new energy to Berea lately.
Consider Bryant — who played for Jackson in 2011 during a four-season stint in Oakland — among the many who feel reinvigorated as the team prepares for training camp in late July.
"I remember him coming out with that same passion and energy every day, he brings it. He's ready to go and ready to work," Bryant said earlier this month during the Browns' offseason workouts.
"He's also a great motivational guy. I remember on game days he would have those speeches that I'm talking about. Guys really want to play well for him because of his passion. It really helps generate passion in other players as well."
And against that backdrop, Bryant said he's taken it upon himself to be a leader in a young defensive line room that includes the likes of Danny Shelton, Xavier Cooper, and John Hughes.
"This is the first time that I am an elder statesman in the D-line room. With that, I get a little more responsibility," Bryant said. "On and off of the field, I just want to be more vocal with the guys, let them know what I am thinking more, which I haven't really done as much in the past."
Jackson added: "I think he's really grown. He's more mature than what he was when I had him in Oakland. He was really starting to become a really good football player. Obviously, coming here for him was probably the height of his career where all of a sudden he started making a lot of money and having an opportunity to really be the guy."
Bryant has made good on that approach, whether it's out in the community or at practice. He's also poised to play a key role on a new-look defense under defensive coordinator Ray Horton, whom he played for in 2013.
The Browns took to the field to finish the three-day veterans' minicamp.
"I like to pride myself on rushing the passer. If that's what Ray wants, then that's what he's going to get from me," said Bryant, who registered 11 sacks over the past two seasons. "There have been a number of moves made this offseason to help with that. We brought in (defensive line) Coach (Robert) Nunn from the Giants and a hand-fighting specialist, along with (strength and conditioning/skills development coach) Master Joe Kim. All of those things are going to help us be better at rushing the passer than we were last year."
Indeed, that's a core tenet of Horton's defense and Bryant said he has "room for growth" after last season, in which the Browns struggled to get after the quarterback.
"I don't feel like I was disappointed with where I was, but there is definitely more room for growth. I think I started off pretty strong and then I had a pretty early injury, and that kind of limited me for a little while," he said.
"When I came back, I didn't do as well, but that's how the NFL is. This year, I'm going to work on trying to have a complete season."
After all, Bryant is trying to help set a standard for his younger counterparts to follow.
"He's trying to show those other guys the way," Jackson said. "He's done an outstanding job. He's headed for a big year this year. He's doing the things that our defensive staff is asking him to do."