Detroit Lions try to keep cornerback Fernando Bryant fit Print
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Sunday, 12 August 2007 13:55
NFL Headline News

 ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) -The Detroit Lions know they need cornerback Fernando Bryant on the field all season, so they did something about it during the offseason.
Coach Rod Marinelli sat down with the nine-year veteran before training camp to discuss a plan for keeping his most experienced cornerback ready.
``We had a diagram of how I was going to make it through 16 games,'' Bryant said after Sunday's training camp workouts. ``I've been healthy and moving around great. I feel like I'm five years younger just the way I'm moving.''
Much of that is because the coaching staff has increased his reps on the left side of the backfield and is keeping him there.
``I don't have to switch,'' Bryant said. ``The body gets used to regularity and the coaches have been great with that.''
Signed in 2004 from Jacksonville, he has yet to play a full season for the Lions. He missed six games his first year with an ankle injury and was out for the last 14 games of the following season after a collarbone injury.
A concussion and ankle injury, along with a week off to tend to a death in the family, cost him six games last season.
An offseason trade that sent former Pro Bowl cornerback Dre' Bly to Denver made Bryant the senior cornerback on the team, a role he said he's slipped into easily.
``They expect me to be me,'' he said. ``They expect me to be a veteran and lead by example.''
It also helps that Joe Barry, the former Tampa Bay linebackers coach and a big believer in Marinelli's Tampa Two scheme, has taken over as defensive coordinator.
``It's not about the individual, it's about the group,'' Bryant said of the system. ``It's going to rotate - you'll have your starters, but everyone is going to play at those five corner spots.
``We know that we are a Tampa Two defense. In the past we'd try to get away from that.''
That's a big change from seasons past, when Bly often got what he wanted when it came to matching up with opposing receivers.
``When you're a Pro Bowl corner, there's things that go along with it,'' Bryant said of Bly. ``Dre' is a great corner and he wanted certain things with that, like the matchups.
``In this scheme, it doesn't work that way, and with this group, that's fine.''
 

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