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Browns minicamp notes: DE Desmond Bryant back at practice after offseason heart surgery, and more notes

Apr 30, 2014 -- 2:52pm

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

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Extra Points …

What a relief: Defensive end Desmond Bryant was back to work at Browns minicamp on Wednesday after being excused the first day for reasons not associated with his heart condition.

Bryant had two episodes of irregular, fast heart beat during games last year. After the second one, which was much milder than the first, he shut it down in December and had a cardiac ablation to correct the problem, which first surfaced a year earlier when he played for Oakland.

Bryant was not cleared to return to his normal offseason conditioning regime until March, he said, but everything is fine now.

“While it was kind of a trying time, I was also excited to get this procedure done and put that behind me,” Bryant said. “Since then, the training, I’ve been feeling really well, I’m back, I’m healthy, today got back on the field a little bit, and can’t wait to keep going.”

Bryant’s first episode occurred during the Buffalo game on Oct. 3. (That’s the game Brian Hoyer tore his ACL, which made the Bills’ game the most impactful of any on the 2013 season). Bryant said it was scary to feel an irregular heart beat and then be transferred via ambulance to the hospital by halftime.

Bryant returned to play the next game and suffered another episode seven weeks later against Jacksonville. But he said it was mild and the episode really wasn’t determined until the next day.

Bryant said he didn’t think his play was affected by the first episode. But, statistically, he had his lowest tackle totals over the next seven games, and no sacks.

He said he has no concerns about the procedure or episodes affecting him this year. He’s more focused on learning the new system on defense installed by first-year coach Mike Pettine.

“I think, personally, it’s more complex than any defense I’ve run before,” said Bryant. “So it’s definitely a learning curve for me. I feel I knew all the ins and outs of defensive line play, but they’ve got a few wrinkles here and there that kind of switch things up, that really make it challenging for offenses. I can’t wait to continue to grow and learn in this system and see where this takes us.”

The good news is that Bryant is a good learner – he attended Harvard University.

“I’m confident in my abilities. I know any defense you put me in I’m going to excel. It’s a new challenge for me, but I accept challenges,” Bryant said.

Keeping the W: The bottom line of the NFL is Ws and Ls, meaning wins and losses. In another vein, safety Donte Whitner has decided to keep his W. He said he has scrapped the idea to legally change his last name to Hitner.

“I think the majority of people will call me Hitner, regardless, especially if you go on the field and lay a couple big hits,” Whitner said. “Plus, I didn’t want to go through changing credit cards and mortgages and cars. They want me to do all this stuff and I can’t do all this paper work again. I considered it until they told me I had to go through so many documents and sign all these papers and change everything. All for one letter change? I’d rather not.”

Brownie bits: The Browns have converted Keavon Milton from tight end to offensive line. Officially, his jersey number has switched from No. 83 to No. 63. Milton is 6-4 and 293 pounds. The position change leaves the Browns with only five tight ends … Three Big Ten officials were on hand at Wednesday’s practice. This, of course, is a voluntary extra minicamp, the perk granted by the league (and NFL Players Association) to a new coaching staff. I can’t recall a Browns coach using game officials this early in a season … Former Michigan coach Gary Moeller visited practice. He is the father of Browns offensive line coach Andy Moeller.

 

Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com.

He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Use the hashtage #HeyTony on Twitter or email your “Hey Tony” questions to tgrossi@goodkarmabrands.com

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi

 

 

 

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