In the minutes, hours and days after he tore his Achilles tendon, Grant Delpit ran the emotional gambit.
He was sad. He was mad. He was dejected. It all hit him at once as he tried to process the unexpected end to his rookie season.
And then, as time passed and reality settled in, the second-round safety out of LSU was hit with a clarity that has guided him throughout a long, grueling rehab process that will end when he hits the field in 2021.
"Injuries can happen to anybody. Look at Odell, look around the league," Delpit said after a recent day of meetings and rehab. "Guys work as hard as they can all season, but it can just happen to anybody.
"It really opened my eyes to not take the game for granted. It can be taken away at any time … I took a lot of things for granted, just like walking, the simplest things like that. I definitely have a newfound respect for those things and I just can't wait to get back on the field."
The wait is still painfully long for Delpit, who suffered the injury less than a week into training camp, but he's hitting checkpoints along the way on his road to recovery. Browns coach Kevin Stefanski described it as "full speed ahead" for Delpit, who was poised to play a big role in Cleveland's defense as a rookie.
Delpit, who sports a big walking boot, is roughly 10 weeks into his rehab and still can only engage in upper-body workouts. He recently ditched the crutches and is walking on his own — a task that sounds easier than it actually is.
"That's the hardest thing to do right now," said Delpit, who expects to be out of his boot in a couple of weeks. "That's really rehab in itself."
The Browns have selected Grant Delpit in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Delpit, though, is staying engaged every way he can. He's in every meeting, whether it be full-team sessions or smaller gatherings with his fellow safeties and cornerbacks. If the game's at FirstEnergy Stadium, Delpit's in the building. If it's on the road, Delpit is parked in front of a TV just like every other Browns fan.
This isn't just to fill time. There's a purpose that will pay dividends in 2021 and beyond.
"Some guys learn from doing. Some guys learn from listening and being on the board. I think Grant is a very conscientious kid," Stefanski said. "He is making sure that this year he is still spending a lot of time and a lot of energy to understand the scheme and understand his role so when he hits the ground running, he is ready to go."
Said Delpit: "If I were to come back next year after not being in meetings, it'd be like having another rookie year next year."
Delpit was one of the first of a number of Browns players to deal with significant injuries this season, and he's determined to pay it forward when it comes to delivering positive motivation when it's needed. It hit him hard when Odell Beckham Jr. went down with a season-ending knee injury because of how uplifting Beckham had been for him throughout his recovery. Delpit said both Beckham and Jarvis Landry — his LSU brethren — would check on him every other day to make sure his head was in the right place.
Now, Delpit wants to play that role for Beckham, who is set to undergo surgery on his torn ACL in the coming days.
"It's been a lot of support in my corner," Delpit said, "and I try to dish it out as well."
It's all a part of Delpit's refreshed mindset, which he credits partially to reading Kobe Bryant's "Mamba Mentality" shortly after suffering the injury. Delpit's appreciation for just about everything — football and beyond — has come into a sharper focus as he works to get back to playing the game he loves.
"I really salute people with one limb or one arm or a disability because it's hard. It's really hard," Delpit said. "It's a hard thing to go through and people have to go through that for life. People have it worse, so I just keep my head up about it."
The Browns' offseason roster on April 1, 2021