Thanks to the suspensions of defensive end Myles Garrett and defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi, and the knee injury that will keep defensive end Olivier Vernon out for the third consecutive game, the Browns are down to defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson as their lone primary starter.
Chris Smith and Chad Thomas will take over for Garrett and Vernon in the starting lineup against the Dolphins, and Devaroe Lawrence will also see additional time in Ogunjobi’s absence, but that still left the Browns with a few roster spots to fill.
They took of that part on Friday by promoting defensive end Porter Gustin and defensive tackle Brandin Bryant from the practice squad.
Gustin is a rookie from USC who originally signed with the New Orleans Saints as an undrafted free agent. While he was a linebacker in college, finishing with 21.5 sacks, the 6-foot-5 and 257-pound Gustin made the switch to defensive end during training camp with the Saints, a move that translated well from his college days, as he told nola.com in August:
“I think defensive end has a lot of similarities to what I did in college. The outside backer is the SAM (strong side) backer here, so there are a lot of similar things. A couple of adjustments with putting my hand on the ground and a couple of other things, but I think it’s been a good transition.”
Gustin was ultimately released by the Saints during the final roster cuts, and after kicking around for a while was signed to Cleveland’s practice squad two weeks ago.
While Bryant is listed as being in his first NFL season, he has been around awhile.
He joined the Seattle Seahawks as an undrafted free agent from Florida Atlantic in 2016, but did not make the final roster. He was subsequently signed to the practice squad of the New York Jets and was on the active roster the final two games of the 2016 season. Bryant was injured during the 2017 preseason and was eventually released by the Jets.
That led Bryant to the Canadian Football League, where he played 10 games in 2018 for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, finishing with 11 tackles and two sacks. He moved on to the Montreal Alouettes in 2019, appearing in one game and recording one tackle before being released. He has spent this season as a member of Cleveland’s practice squad.
The 6-foot-3 and 294-pound Bryant brings a positive attitude to the field, according to Josh Keatley at Browns Wire:
Despite his less than ideal size, Bryant is better against the run than the pass and it is largely due to his strength and ability to anchor. Bryant has shown flashes of being a solid depth piece and shows superb quickness and solid hustle to chase after the play, but what really makes him a great fit for Cleveland is his attitude and work ethic. Bryant was noted as one of the more engaged and positive players during his days in Winnipeg.
The Browns should be able to get past the Dolphins with a defensive line cobbled together from spare parts, but it will be good to get Ogunjobi - and hopefully Vernon - back for the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on December 1.
And in case you want to find them on the field on Sunday, Bryant will wear No. 90 and Gustin will wear No. 97.