Cleveland Browns DL Desmond Bryant has returned to the practice field after heart surgery in December.


BEREA, Ohio -- Cleveland Browns defensive lineman Desmond Bryant spent the offseason recovering from heart surgery he underwent in December to correct an irregular heartbeat that twice sent him to the hospital following games last season.

Bryant underwent a cardiac ablation, where doctors corrected tissue that was causing bad electrical charges within the heart, and four months later, he returned to the field for the start of voluntary mini-camp in Berea.

"I felt like after I experienced what I did on the field a few times, it was finally time to do something to fix that," Bryant said Wednesday. "While it was kind of a trying time, I was also excited to get this procedure done and put this behind me.

"I'm back. I'm healthy. Today, I got back on the field a little bit and I can't wait to keep going with this thing."

After consulting with doctors, Bryant elected to have the procedure, but said it was not done in an effort to save his career.

"If I had not had the procedure, I believe I could've still played," Bryant said. "I was never told otherwise, but I just would've been putting myself at risk, which is not something you want to do with your heart.

"Once I realized I was experiencing the same thing, I didn't want to have to put myself at risk for having to deal with it again. They had a procedure that they could do, that had a very high success rate that was going to help me. I'm willing to do that. Unfortunately, I lost the rest of the season, but going forward, everything should be great."

Bryant first suffered an irregular heartbeat when he played with the Oakland Raiders in 2012, and twice experienced it last fall. And while heart surgery for might be a scary proposition, Bryant said the most trying times came during the episodes.

"The scariest part was right when it would happen," Bryant said. "I would feel like I had a fast heart rate, and then, the next thing I know, I was going to the hospital. That was the only scary thing about it. Other than that, I was focusing on the positives, focusing on what I can do to get better, to get back to be where I am today and where I want to be over the course of the next year.

"That (Buffalo game) was one of the scary times, where I didn't really feel like anything was going too bad. I just knew my heart was beating fast, and the next thing, I'm at the hospital, so it's tough."

During the course of his recovery, Bryant heard about Dallas Stars hockey player Rich Peverley, who had a cardiac event in the middle of the first period of a game against the Columbus Blue Jackets in February, and needed to be revived by the team's medical staff in the hallway between the bench and dressing room before being transported to the hospital.

"Does it give me pause? No," Bryant said. "I believe in the work that I got done by my doctors. I believe everything, so far, has been going really well. It's something to consider, for sure, but it doesn't make me stop. It doesn't deter me from doing all of the things that I want to do."

Seeing the way Bryant worked his way back from the heart surgery has impressed even the newest of his teammates.

"He's a talented guy," linebacker Karlos Dansby said. "I know he had a big injury with his heart, and that's serious. You can't overlook that. For him to be able to have enough faith to come back out on this field and continue to play this game, my hat goes off to him. He's a tough guy, and I can't wait to get out there and play with him."

Bryant, who had no family history of heart ailments, made several lifestyle changes following the procedure, which included cutting back on energy drinks and cleaning up his diet. When he stepped on the field Wednesday, Bryant claimed to "feel great" and looks forward to being ready to contribute to the team this fall.

"There's still some work to do on my conditioning, but I think everybody out there could say that," Bryant said. "I feel good about where I am and I feel good about where I project myself to be."

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