Allen Park — The Detroit Lions activated rookie defensive end Austin Bryant off injured reserve on Wednesday, placing fullback Nick Bawden on injured reserve to clear room on the roster.
Bryant, the team's fourth-round pick, has been working his way back from a pectoral injury suffered during the early stages of training camp. He returned to practice at the end of October, and the team was required to make a decision Wednesday whether to activate him or keep him on injured reserve, ending his season.
"Had to stay patient," Bryant said. "It was a long time coming, just grind. Nobody was watching, I just had to work as hard as I could. Thankfully, we’ve got some great guys in our room, also some great coaches that kept me engaged, whether it be in film, on the side at practice whenever they could, before, whenever.”
Bryant figures to add some needed depth to Detroit's banged up edge defender rotation.
“I sure hope so," Bryant said. "I hope I can do a little something. Of course that’s the case, I’ve been on the side for 11 weeks. Legs are a little fresh, but you’ve still got to get in the flow of just playing football.”
Lions coach Matt Patricia said the team has been pleasantly surprised with what they've seen from Bryant on the practice field these past three weeks.
"Something I think he’s doing a really good job of, especially for as much time he’s missed, I thought his pad level is really good," Patricia said. "I think his hand placement is pretty good. He’s incredibly long. He’s just kind of a different body type out there.
"You can see where he’s starting to get comfortable using his leverage and being a little bit more confident in kind of the injury situation," Patricia continued. "Sometimes you see guys that are not using their body parts, maybe coming out of an injury, to the fullest, and I think we’re seeing that."
The 6-foot-6, 261-pound Bryant also battled through a pectoral injury during his senior year at Clemson in 2018, requiring surgery leading up the draft. He recorded 8.5 sacks for the Tigers each of the past two seasons, early various All-American honors in 2017.
As for Bawden, his second season ends after 10 games due to a knee injury he suffered Sunday against Dallas. He also had been dealing with a foot injury heading into that game.
It marks the second season-ending injury for the young fullback. He missed his entire rookie season with a torn ACL.
It was reported the Lions worked out four fullbacks on Tuesday — Derrick Coleman, Tommy Bohanon, Tre Madden and Aaron Ripkowski. Coleman and Madden both played for Lions offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell in Seattle.