Second-year tight end spent the offseason working on his body as well as his game. Will it pay off in 2021?
Cleveland Browns tight end Harrison Bryant is not exactly The Six Million Dollar Man, but he did go into this past offseason with one main goal in mind.
Get bigger, faster, stronger.
Bryant flashed at times during his rookie season in 2020 – most notably when he had two touchdown receptions in the Week 7 win against the Cincinnati Bengals – but also dealt with some fumbling issues and was clearly behind Austin Hooper and David Njoku among the tight ends.
He also learned how difficult it can be to have to block defensive ends on the NFL level, a point that was driven home during Week 9 against the Houston Texans when Bryant had to deal with 288-pound J.J. Watt at times during the game and in Week 10 against Brandon Graham of the Philadelphia Eagles
So in addition to working on his receiving game during the offseason, Bryant worked on his body as well, as he revealed on Tuesday during a media session prior to practice (quotes via a team-provided transcript):
“Every aspect of my game. Bigger, faster, stronger. Just improve on everything. I ended up gaining about 13 pounds. I am right about 245 (now). After the season was over, I was down a lot. (I) just really focused on that, worked with some people and that was one of my main goals.
“No matter what your weight is, against some of these guys as a tight end, you are outmatched. I would not say all of the time but in a lot of instances. I think for everyone in the tight end room, it is always a goal to get bigger and stronger to help us out on every play.”
Spreading the ball around and maximizing the results with the tight ends is something the coaching staff is still working on, head coach Kevin Stefanski said on Tuesday (quotes via a team-provided transcript):
“What you are trying to do is play everybody to their strengths. We are not at the point of game-planning yet and saying, ‘This play is in for this player. This play is in for that player.’ Ultimately, we will get there, and understanding what their strengths are and asking a guy to do something that he is good at is part of our job. We have a year-plus with our tight ends and understanding what each one of those guys do, and they complement each other and they feed off of each other. They really push each other to compete. That is part of our job as you get to game planning is making sure that you are specific about where you are putting each guy.”
While Stefanski enjoys using multiple tight ends in his offense – Cleveland ran a combined 452 offensive plays in either 12 (one running back, two tight ends) and 13 (one running back, three tight ends) personnel in 2020 – there is not one tight end on the team that will put up numbers on par with someone like Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs, who finished the season with 105 receptions for 1,416 yards and 11 touchdowns.
But the trio of Hooper, Njoku and Bryant still combined for 89 receptions, 886 yards and nine touchdown receptions last season, despite missing a combined seven games. So even a small increase from all three would be enough to push the group over the 1,000-yard mark for the season.
And Bryant may even have the opportunity to test himself against Watt again this season when the Browns host the Arizona Cardinals on October 17.