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As hard as it may be to imagine, Bryan Braman never doubted he could be in the position he is in right now as an impressive “street” free agent acquisition with the Texans.
Amazingly he never wavered during the last year after he left the football program at West Texas A&M following a drug charge. He remained steadfast this summer after he pled guilty to manufacturing psilocybin, which is a hallucinogen found in mushrooms.
Braman wasn’t even fazed the last few months as he was forced to work as a bouncer in West Texas and then College Station to make ends meet while still hoping for a free agent shot at the NFL lockout lingered.
“Hardships have never really been a problem for me, growing up with a single mother and stuff like that,” Braman said following Thursday morning’s practice. “Working has never been a problem for me, it’s something that I’m okay with. It was just a matter of making sure I was ready for a shot.
“I knew that I was going to be able to play football somewhere, I just didn’t know where it was going to be. I wanted it to be in the NFL but if I had to go to the arena league or the indoor football league or the Canadian league, it didn’t matter I was just ready to play football.”
And by all accounts Braman has made the most of his opportunity since joining the Texans once the lockout was over late last month. His energy has been noticeable to all in practice and it paid dividends in his NFL debut Monday night against the New York Jets.
Braman, competing for time at outside linebacker behind All-Pro Mario Williams, was one of the bright spots of the preseason opener. He led the Texans with six tackles, which included 1.5 sacks, three quarterback hurries and a forced fumble to become an instant favorite and the talk of the Texans camp this week.
But as impressive as Braman was in front of a national television audience Monday night, he still faces an uphill battle as he competes Jesse Nading for time as Williams’ backup.
“I just want to continue to keep working,” said Braman, whose next shot comes Saturday night when the New Orleans Saints come into Reliant Stadium for the second preseason game of the year. “I know that there is still a lot of room for improvement. That’s all that I want to do is improve.
“One of the greatest coaching staffs in the NFL, I’m glad to be under them and I’m excited to see what they can do for me as well me for them.”
Braman certainly does have a huge debt to pay after defensive assistant Bobby King went to bat for him to convince defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and head coach Gary Kubiak to give the undrafted rookie a chance, despite some obvious red flags.
King had coached Braman at West Texas A&M when he was standout junior college transfer defensive end. King left West Texas A&M and joined Phillips staff with the Dallas Cowboys and then followed him here this offseason.
Through all of that King remembered Braman and recommended the Texans give him a look.
“(Bobby King) knew him well and that’s how we got him here,” Kubiak said.
That’s a fact that isn’t lost on Braman as he has shown his gratitude with hard work and great effort every day he has been in training camp.
“I don’t think I’d be here today if it wasn’t for him,” Braman said. “He stood up for me and I love him for it. I’m here trying to live up to my name as well as his.”
Braman is also trying to distance himself from his recent past which included the drug charge and subsequent conviction which left him with one year of deferred adjudication and a $2,000 fine.
“It was very eye opening,” said. “Everybody has a bad experience. I’m just happy to move on and make the best of it.”
Braman obviously doesn’t feel comfortable going into great detail about the ordeal but he does offer that he learned a great deal from the experience.
“Unfortunately it was just a life-lesson about the people you associate yourself with, the people that you let into your home. I’ve learned to be a lot more careful and I’m excited to see who I am able to surround with here in the NFL.”
Most would agree Braman is off to a fairly rousing start both on and off the field. But the name of the game in the NFL is consistency so all eyes will be on Braman to see if he can duplicate his success Saturday against the Saints.
“I just want to be able to show people what I did on Monday night wasn’t a fluke. I’m out here for a reason. That way they can believe it as much as me and these coaches do,” Braman said. “So Saturday I’m going to come out and work as hard as I did on Monday night.”
Whatever happens and wherever Braman ends up this season, he is enjoying living the dream and respecting the journey that landed him here.
“It was a lot of fun though. I believe that everything that I’ve faced in life, the trials and tribulations I have been put through have made me the man that I am today and I don’t think I would be handle the things I can and life now.”