For those that missed our Pickled Hogs Radio show last night, Vonnie Holliday was our guest and was very candid in talking about Haynesworth and the CBA. Towards the end of the interview, I simply had to ask what is going on with the Nose Tackle position and how it's going to be remedied in 2011. (ps - follow Vonnie on Twitter @therealholliday). The key things I took away is that Anthony Bryant has been staying in shape and Jarvis Jenkins will be getting reps at Nose Tackle.
Nose Tackle was a gaping problem last year. How are we going to fix it this year?
Holliday: After the season last year I had an opportunity to talk with both Coach Haz and Mike and where we're going to go from here, if I was part of the plan, and what we need to fix to go forward. Nose Tackle was something that was big. At the end of the year you saw Anthony Bryant step in. Kemo never really got right during the year. The injury was definitely evident. He could just not get done what we needed to get done. Then Anythony Bryant steps in and really played big for us. He's a guy who's bounced around the League but stepped up those last several games and played well for us. There's some promise there at the Nose position but that we needed some more help....I think we made a good pick with Jenkins. He's a tough-nosed guy that can come in and help us right away. It also creates competition there. Now Anthony has to step it up.
What took so long to give Anthony Bryant that chance? Kemo stunk the whole year.
I just remember after being signed and coming in that next week was OTAs. I remember Kemo and seeing that big scar on his Achilles. He was running around the field and they were trying to get him in shape and then not seeing him actually participate in football drills really into training camp and even then, easing him into the full-on practice. And so knowing that it would take some time to get going. The 3-4 scheme. He had been out of it awhile playing in a 4-3 in Carolina. Knowing it would take some time to get used to it. After weeks 2,3,4...a quarter way through the season and you're still not seeing the progress that you want. You continue to work with him and push him but then there was the shoulder injury. He goes from the Achilles to the shoulder. He was over-compensating because he wasn't quite ready to come back yet. All those things happen, not to make excuses, it's just the end of the day he's not giving us what we need to be the type of defense that we wanted to be.
To Anthony Bryant, one of the knocks on Anthony Bryant is that he was lazy, that he doesn't push himself, and the weight was an issue and all these other things. Staying on his case. Giving to him in practice. And telling him, "If this guy is playing as bad as he's playing, and that's what they're saying, then what's that say about you that you can't get on the field". Sooner or later it clicked to him and he got his chance and he made good on it. Everytime I've talked to him this off-season he's been driving, working out, and keeping his weight under control. I haven't seen him since March. He came out to a charity event I had, but when I saw him in March he looked good. We'll see if he sticks to it.
And not just Anthony and Kemo. All the guys. When we're not with the team going through off-season workouts. It's about showing the owners and coaches that we can be men and professionals and prepare as good if not better if there were no lockout. So going forward with the CBA, talking about off-season programs and how much time players are around facilities, we have a leg to stand on.
So there you have it. Kemo was hurt and Anthony Bryant wasn't ready. I still feel like a "not-ready" Bryant would have been better than a 1-legged and 1-armed Kemoeatu.