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What will the Detroit Lions do with Armonty Bryant?

Can the Lions still trust Armonty Bryant? Is he a significant upgrad?

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NFL: Washington Redskins at Detroit Lions Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive end Armonty Bryant has now served the entirety of his four-game suspension, stemming from a substance abuse policy violation back in July. He has rejoined the team and, according to The Detroit News, he has been practicing with the team all week in the leadup to Week 5’s matchup against the Carolina Panthers.

But he isn’t part of the 53-man roster quite yet. As of Friday morning, Bryant remains on the commissioner’s roster exemption list, meaning he can practice this week while not taking up a spot on the roster. However, Detroit faces a decision before Sunday’s game: Bring Bryant up to the 53-man roster, or cut him loose.

It isn’t as easy of a decision as it sounds. Yes, the Lions have struggled to find a good pass rusher beyond Anthony Zettel and (occasionally) Ezekiel Ansah, but what does Bryant bring and can the Lions trust a man who has been dealt three suspensions in less than two full seasons?

Head coach Jim Caldwell was asked about trust issues on Friday, and didn’t seem too worried about Bryant. “There’s always an opportunity to help make a difference in a guy’s life sometimes, you know,” Caldwell said. “And certain guys, you just got a sense that they’ve made a couple mistakes, but, you know, haven’t we all? I’m always one that I believe in working with people and trying to get them to where we’d like them to be.”

So with Caldwell’s trust intact, what can Bryant add to this impressive Detroit defense? Last year, Bryant was somewhat efficient in his limited time with the Lions. In five games, Bryant played 104 snaps and totaled five tackles and 3.0 sacks. However, according to Pro Football Focus, he graded out with a “poor” score of 51.9 last season.

While the sack numbers are somewhat impressive in limited snaps, Bryant’s real value comes in stopping the run. In 2015 with the Cleveland Browns, Bryant earned the fifth-highest run-stop percentage in the AFC, per PFF. That year, Bryant had 40 tackles, 5.5 sacks and two forced fumbles in 14 game appearances (two starts).

Detroit could certainly use some help in stopping the run. Over the past two weeks, the Falcons and Vikings combined for 238 rushing yards at 4.76 yards per carry. And with a Panthers offense that’s built around establishing the run coming to town on Sunday, his presence would be more than welcome along a quiet defensive line.

But would Bryant be ready by Sunday? Though he’s practiced all week, there’s going to be an expected amount of rust on Bryant, having not played a game since early December in 2016—though he did participate in three preseason games this year.

“He’s coming along. He really is,” Caldwell said on Friday. “He’s coming along, he’s getting back to his old self.”

If the Lions decide Bryant is ready to go, a significant upgrade and trustworthy, they’ll have to make room for him on the roster. Do they waive a player like undrafted rookie Jeremiah Valoaga, who showed early promise, but has been slowly getting weaned of playing time (only eight defensive snaps vs. Vikings)? Or do they part ways with George Johnson, who was just added a few weeks ago, and has yet to make a big impact with the defense?

The Lions will have to make a decision and make it soon.


Should the Lions promote Armonty Bryant to the 53-man roster?

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