When the Cleveland Browns released Austin Hooper, many folks wondered one thing.
Who would get the bulk of Hooper’s targets in this year’s offense?
David Njoku’s big contract was a clue as to who would get the bulk of the increase.
And certainly, Harrison Bryant would see a bump in productivity, too.
Harrison Bryant figures to be the next man up for Cleveland. Njoku joins Kelce and Gerald Everett as tight ends that will miss Week 8. https://t.co/VF5zHD9NFG
— Matthew Berry (@MatthewBerryTMR) October 24, 2022
But while he is on track for career highs in catches and targets, the increase is not as dramatic as some expected.
That could change starting with tonight’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Harrison steps into a starting role in the absence of the injured Njoku.
And all indications are he can excel in the TE-1 spot.
What Bryant Has Done Lately?
Bryant has 14 catches on 21 targets through 7 games.
With 10 games to go, that is already two-thirds of his production in 2021.
But he has mostly been a relief valve with little impact on the offense.
He averages only 5.4 yards per catch after putting up over 8 yards-per last season.
Really interested to see how #Browns TE Harrison Bryant does in the TE1 role
He has 6 career TDs
but has yet to score this year
Tonight he’s up against a secondary that is top 10 vs the pass but has given up the 15th most ff points to TE’s
— Mac🦬 (@tha_buffalo) October 31, 2022
In past seasons, Bryant ran some deeper routes similar to what Njoku gets each game.
And he showed a knack for making clutch plays when the team needed him to.
But this year, he already has 3 drops in his limited action.
While that could be blamed on adjusting to a new passer, he has to break that trend real soon.
Can Bryant Fill Njoku’s Role?
Bryant has come up big in some key moments over his first 2 seasons-plus.
And ready or not, he will see a significant change in his role tonight.
The former Collegiate Tight End of the Year might not have the big contract of Njoku.
But he can make the big catches and provide some extra yards after.
— Camryn Justice (@camijustice) October 28, 2022
Kevin Stefanski knows his 3rd-year player has better hands than 3 drops would indicate.
And just like he lets Jacoby Brissett act like Deshaun Watson, he expects Bryant to slide into Njoku’s role.
Bryant also has to block as well as Njoku, which he has shown an aptitude for from the start.
Overall, it looks like Harrison Bryant is set up for an NFL breakout performance on Monday Night Football.