Seahawks' Red Bryant vows to live up to his new contract
Seattle defensive end's role secure, but he says he won't let team down.
Seattle Times staff reporter
RENTON — Red Bryant stepped off the practice field Wednesday morning and directly into an interview with television cameras rolling and about 10 reporters waiting.
The scene was odd, in a sense, because the Seahawks defensive end was being asked for answers in the first year of his Seattle tenure that there aren't many questions about his role.
No doubt about his position, unlike two years ago when he switched from defensive tackle to end. No questions about his durability, after he started 16 games for the first time in his career. No uncertainty about his future, since he signed a five-year contract to remain with Seattle.
"It's definitely a change," Bryant said. "I've got more security ... I know I'll be here, and I'm a big player moving forward ... I have a lot more responsibility as far as continuing to be the leader that I have become."
Bryant was an afterthought of a defensive tackle for two years after the Seahawks chose him in the fourth round of the 2008 NFL draft. He was an experiment at defensive end after coach Pete Carroll became head coach in 2010. Now, he's a mainstay in Seattle who's looking to build a legacy.
"A lot of guys get big contracts and they kind of go in the tank because you get comfortable," Bryant said. "I feel like not so much to justify it, but I have bigger expectations than just a contract. You hear that all the time, but I definitely want to be a guy that when my playing days are over with and they think about the Seahawks, they think about big Red Bryant."
He's a second-generation Seahawk, in a sense. His father-in-law is Jacob Green, a defensive lineman the Seahawks have already inducted into their Ring of Honor. Bryant is a father himself now, and his 4-month-old son Joseph Brooks Bryant checks in at 22 pounds.
That makes the baby a (sizable) chip off the old block. Bryant, after all, is 6 feet 4, listed at 323 pounds and considered the strongest player on the team. He has become a pillar of Seattle's defense since moving to end, where he became a run-stuffer extraordinaire beginning in 2010.
He played seven games that season before suffering a season-ending knee injury at Oakland. His absence became a turning point for the Seahawks that season. The team's promising 4-2 start gave way to a 7-9 finish.
Last season, the question was whether Bryant could stay healthy an entire season. He had undergone two knee surgeries in his first three seasons as a Seahawk and never played in more than seven games any of his first three seasons.
Bryant played in all 16 games in 2011, and became an unrestricted free agent. New England and its coach Bill Belichick showed interest before the Seahawks re-signed him to a deal that could be worth as much as $35 million.
"I was actually surprised when the Patriots were making a push for me," Bryant said. "Coach Belichick, he's arguably one of the greatest coaches. For him to pursue me, it made me feel even more confident in my ability and what I bring to the table."
Now, Bryant is back in Seattle with no doubt about his role. Still, he hopes to add more of a pass rush to his repertoire after totaling two sacks in his first four seasons in the league.
"Getting sacks, that's my major goal," Bryant said. "I at least want to get that major stigma off of me because I know I can get to the quarterback."
After the way Bryant has played the past two years, that's one of the only questions he has left to answer.
Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or email@example.com. On Twitter @dannyoneil.Code Red
Seattle's rush defense has been much better with Red Bryant the past two seasons than it was in the 9.5 games he missed in 2010:
/With Bryant/Without Bryant
Rushing yds per game/103.7/130.2
Rushing yds per carry/3.70/4.7
Rushing TDs allowed/14/9