The career of Corbin Bryant's has taken a different path than many of his fellow defensive linemen. Less than three years ago, Bryant was on the Bills practice squad.
Bryant entered the league in 2011 with the Chicago Bears as an undrafted free agent out of Northwestern. After the Bears cut him, he signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers to be on their practice squad. He spent some time on the Steelers' 53-man roster, but was ultimately cut in 2012. It was then that he got an opportunity with the Bills.
After being on the practice squad for the last month of the 2012 season, Bryant was promoted to the 53-man roster—and he never looked back. Bryant played in 15 games in the 2013 season, starting two and earning a roster spot the next season.
"It was a tough journey," Bryant said. "It was a journey of a lot of learning, a lot of physical development—my body has developed a lot better—and my mind has developed a lot better—I've been able to learn defense."
To make that journey even tougher, Bryant has had to play for four different defensive line coaches and four different defensive coordinators in his time with the Bills. Although that might seem difficult to some, Bryant was able to take it all in stride and keep up with the different schemes.
"It has not been a struggle for me because early in my career I was taught to get in your book late at night, get in your book in the morning, you know, always study your playbook," he said. "You've just got to do what the coaches tell you to do and I've been pretty good at that."
At training camp, Bryant brought his game to new levels. With injuries plaguing players like defensive tackle Kyle Williams, Bryant was called upon to fill the void. Not only did he fill it, but now he's expected to be the first man off the bench for the entire defensive line.
"We're continuing to work, but just being able to watch our top four guys and to be able to work with the guys that I work with on the second unit, it's been great," Bryant said. "We all have different talents—we have speed, we have power, we're all smart, we're able to coordinate with each other out on the field and off the field we have a lot of fun as well."
"Corbin has been impressive there's no doubt … he's done an outstanding job," head coach Rex Ryan said. "Smart guy, veteran player but I love his enthusiasm. He hits the field with a purpose each week, each day."
With expectations high heading into the regular season, Bryant has a lot to look forward to. He may get the opportunity to start Week 1 against the Indianapolis Colts due to defensive tackle Marcell Dareus' suspension. According to Bryant, however, he hasn't looked that far ahead.
"I'm not thinking about that just yet," he said. "We've got two more preseason games and once Week 1 comes up, if they tell me I'm starting, I'm going to buckle down and get it done because this is our team and we're trying to make a statement this year."
Now that training camp is in the books, Bryant is ready to move forward. His hard work and dedication to the game have paid off and he's set to improve upon his progress.
"Nothing was given to me," Bryant said. "I was able to come in my third camp and earn a spot and I was able to continue to build on what I'd been doing."