Fullback James Bryant still fighting for Detroit Lions roster spot

ALLEN PARK -- Detroit Lions fullback James Bryant is still standing.

Such a simplistic statement, but yet, very impressive when you consider his lack of college and professional football experience. Bryant is still on a NFL roster despite have brief stints at the University of Miami, arena football leagues, and a CFL practice squad.

While many skeptics thought Bryant would never make it to training camp, he played in last week's preseason game against Cleveland. He is also expected to play against the Baltimore Ravens on Friday.

"I remember before the game, I was talking to (Mikel) Leshoure," Bryant said. "I said to him when I first got back onto the field in Canada, I cried. When I first got back on the field here, being my first NFL game, I was happy and joyous to be out there.

"Not only for the Detroit Lions, but knowing I'm going to be blocking for a core of running backs who know what the hell they're doing, and take their job seriously. That's what makes me take my job that much more seriously."

Bryant definitely took his job seriously against the Browns.

As the lead blocker on several running plays, Bryant helped running backs Keiland Williams and Joique Bell to combine for 160 of the Lions' 198 rushing yards this past Friday.

"I enjoyed being out there on Friday," Bryant said. "For one, (it was) my first NFL game, being removed from college since 2009, and then also playing a position I dreamed of playing since I was a little kid. Being able to come out here on Friday and do that was a great experience.

"Now we still got weeks on top of weeks to come in order for me to be here and be stuck here in the Detroit system. As we all know, it is what it is, but hopefully everything will come out on top for me."

It might be hard for Bryant to achieve his ultimate goal, which is to be on the 53-man roster.

Detroit does not use a fullback in its offense. Lions tight end Will Heller usually serves as the team's fullback on running plays. Bryant seems destined to this year's practice squad. While the practice squad is not his ultimate goal, it would be a good start to his NFL career.

Not bad for a person many skeptics never thought would make it this far.

Bryant is still standing.

"We're really not a fullback offensive team," Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. "Just like I said with the other running backs, it's not necessarily just playing fullback. You got to be available in the passing game; you have to be able to play special teams; you have to find a way to get on the field.

"It's also important for us to have a fullback for our defense to look at. We're going to play teams that have fullbacks. There's importance to the position. He's a young player. He needs to be more consistent. We're still working on that."

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