For linebacker D.J. Bryant, one of his greatest childhood memories is attending the Ravens' inaugural football game in 1996 at Memorial Stadium.

The Randallstown High graduate grew up as a Ravens fan, and now he plays for his hometown team.

"I was there just growing up watching the team, loving everything about it," Bryant said. "Having the opportunity to play for the Ravens is just great. I have that hard-nosed Baltimore mentality just like the Ravens have. Being from Baltimore and being on this team means everything to me."

Bryant was a three-year starter at Randallstown as a two-time all-county defensive end and wide receiver, also earning all-metro honors in basketball and playing on three state title squads.

He was the Most Valuable Player of the Baltimore City-Baltimore County All-Star game, catching 45 passes for 890 yards and 15 touchdowns as a senior. He recorded 12.5 sacks as a junior.

The Ravens signed Bryant to their offseason roster in February after being added to the practice squad last season following stints with the Houston Texans, New York Jets, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts.

Bryant bounced around the NFL as a rookie last year after going undrafted out of James Madison, where he started 27 games as an all-conference defensive end who recorded 118 career tackles, 12.5 sacks, one interception, a fumble recovery and returned a blocked punt for a touchdown.

Now, Bryant is making his bid to stick with the Ravens. He faces long odds to make the 53-man roster at a crowded linebacker position.

"My biggest goal is to crack the 53-man roster and have the opportunity to play here," Bryant said. "It's a great organization. If the practice squad happens, it happens.

"It's great to be in the league at all. It's going really good. I'm making plays on special teams. I'm trying to stack days, stack games and be consistent."

 

awilson@baltsun.com

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