BEREA: Browns defensive end Armonty Bryant met with coach Rob Chudzinski upon reporting to rookie minicamp, apologized for his recent run-in with the law and vowed to change his lifestyle.
“I apologized multiple times,” Bryant said Friday after the first practice of the three-day minicamp. “He just told me what he expects and what the Browns expect. So hopefully we can move forward, and I can prove [to] them that I’m not that type of person.”
Bryant pleaded no contest Tuesday to driving under the influence May 3 in Ada, Okla., less than a week after the Browns drafted him in the seventh round (No. 217 overall). He received a one-year deferred sentence and arranged to pay $1,136 in fines and court costs.
“I’m not going to go into detail [about the arrest], but I just made a stupid mistake at the time,” Bryant said. “But now I’m just going to let my actions speak for me.”
The 6-foot-4, 263-pound Bryant entered the draft with a well-documented history of off-the-field trouble. He was arrested in October for selling $20 of marijuana twice to an undercover police officer, but the Browns still took a chance on him.
Bryant, who starred at Division II East Central University in Ada, said he was worried the Browns would sever ties with him after the DUI arrest. Chudzinski acknowledged the team contemplated dumping Bryant but ultimately decided to give him another opportunity.
“Now that Armonty’s gotten here, I had a chance to sit down with him and talk and talk about my expectations and make those expectations clear with him,” Chudzinski said. “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 [linebacker] D’Qwell Jackson, if you look at [wide receiver] 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.”
Chudzinski conceded he doesn’t know Bryant well yet, but he’s confident Bryant wants to atone for violating the Browns’ trust.
“Well, I just met him for the first time face to face [Thursday], and he’s very remorseful for the things that have happened,” Chudzinski said. “He understands me and what I expect from him and is ready to make amends.”
Moments after he was drafted April 27, Bryant told reporters during a conference call that he learned from the marijuana arrest and would leave his mistakes in the past. Now he’s using similar lines while trying to convince the media he can overcome the DUI.
“I believe good people make mistakes, and it’s all about moving on,” Bryant said. “And hopefully … my actions will speak loud.”
Chudzinski said everyone will eventually learn whether Bryant’s latest apology is sincere.
“Time will tell,” Chudzinski 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.”
Bryant, 22, said he understands he’s on a zero-tolerance policy now.
“Yes, I understand, and I’m just going to take this opportunity to let my actions on the field speak,” he said. … “It’s been tough lately. I’ve just been able to move forward with it, the whole situation, and thankfully the Browns still have faith in me and everything and they just let me come out here and have a second chance.”
Bryant said he’s taking the necessary steps to ensure he stays out of trouble.
“I’ve been locking myself in the room with my playbook every night,” Bryant said. “Either that, or I’m on the video games, just keeping to myself. Nothing outside is going to affect me from helping this team win or anything like that.”
Although some draft gurus thought Bryant could play outside linebacker in the NFL, he worked exclusively with the defensive linemen Friday during the portion of practice open to the media. In three seasons at East Central, he set a school record with 26½ sacks to go along with nine blocked kicks.
Perhaps Bryant could become a diamond in the rough if he avoids more drama in his personal life, though Chudzinski isn’t quite ready to call him a sleeper.
“He’s real raw and has ability,” Chudzinski said. “There’s a lot of guys that are raw and have ability, and it really just depends on his commitment level and work ethic.”
The Browns sent defensive line coach Joe Cullen to work out Bryant before the draft. Cullen, whose career was threatened by two alcohol-related arrests in 2006, has since taken Bryant under his wing.
“I made a strong bond with coach Cullen,” Bryant said. “He’s actually had my back, and he’s helped me through this situation also, and I feel like he’s a great mentor at the time.”
Often overlooked because he played for a Division II college program, Bryant said he’s carrying a big chip on his shoulder as he enters the NFL. He believes the DUI will only fuel his desire to defy the skeptics and reward the Browns for their support.
“I think I’m more hungry than before,” Bryant said. “I feel like I have a lot more to prove now.”
Nate Ulrich can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Browns blog at http://www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook www.facebook.com/browns.abj.