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Cleveland Browns’ Desmond Bryant ends 2014 with praise and honors

A few weeks ago, Browns defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil called Desmond Bryant the unit’s most improved player for the 2014 football season.

The East Bladen High School grad has overcome plenty over the past 15 months to earn the distinction, including a heart procedure and wrist injury.

So it’s a little surprise Bryant has been chosen by his teammates as the Browns’ recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award, given annually to a member of each NFL team exemplifying courage, compassion, commitment and community. The award is named after Ed Block, former head athletic trainer of the Baltimore Colts.

“Not only has Des consistently produced for our defense and continually improved throughout the season, but his passion and toughness provide a great example for our entire team on how to ‘Play Like a Brown,” coach Mike Pettine said in a statement.

Bryant missed the final four games last year due to an irregular heartbeat that was corrected with a cardiac ablation.  He also was sidelined for the opener this year recovering from wrist surgery.

On a defensive line decimated by injury, Bryant leads the group with 43 tackles and ranks second on the team with four sacks as of early December.

“He obviously bounced back from the heart procedure that he had,” according to O’Neill, “He didn’t have a lot of reps in the system early in the season, so he kind of got off to a slow start.  I think the last four or five games he’s really been a force for us inside, and that’s really helped us, especially with the injuries that we’ve had in that room. We needed a guy to really step up and be a difference maker for us in the run and pass game. He’s done that for us.

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