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Red Bryant was resigned to not playing in 2015 -- until Cardinals called

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Red Bryant was preparing for Thanksgiving with his family Wednesday in Texas when the Arizona Cardinals called.

They needed a defensive lineman. Bryant needed a job.

Bryant flew to Arizona on Wednesday night and tried out for the Cardinals on Thursday morning. They liked enough of what they saw from Bryant to sign the 31-year-old, who hasn’t played football since being released by the Buffalo Bills on Sept. 5.

Thanksgiving with the family would have to wait.

Despite not having taken a regular-season snap since Week 17 of last season, Bryant said he’ll be ready to play this Sunday against San Francisco.

“That’s the goal,” he said. “If I’m put out there, I’m just do what I always did and play my heart out.”

Bryant didn’t hint that he’s spent the season working on his conditioning. He lives in Jacksonville, Florida, with his wife and three young kids and said he’s been “enjoying my family.”

“I wouldn’t say I’m in the best football shape,” Bryant said. “The only way you can get in football shape is by playing. But I was in good enough shape that they feel confident to give me an opportunity.

“So, it’s on me what I do with it from here on out.”

Bryant didn’t expect to be playing this season.

After his release from the Jacksonville Jaguars in March, Bryant contemplated retirement. He had a tryout with the New England Patriots but said he was “just in a bad headspace at the time” and thought he wanted to retire. But a heart-to-heart with his wife convinced him to continue playing, which led to him singing with the Bills for training camp.

“At that particular time I wasn’t in the best shape and I couldn’t take advantage of the opportunity,” Bryant said. “I had made up my mind that I thought I wouldn’t play this season and I was going to try to come back next year.

“So, for the Cardinals to give me this opportunity this late in the season, I hope I can take advantage.”

Bryant fills an immediate need for the Cardinals on the defensive line, which is likely to be without defensive tackles Frostee Rucker and Cory Redding against the Niners.

Defensive coordinator James Bettcher said he wasn’t sure Thursday how Bryant would fit into the Cardinals’ defensive line rotation but expects to have it figured out by the end of the week.

“But to have a guy of his caliber, we all know what his history is,” Bettcher said. “He’s a physical, hard guy to move.”

Bryant and the Cardinals aren’t strangers, however.

He spent the first six years of his career with the Seattle Seahawks and played the Cardinals seven times during that stretch. He had 20 tackles and 1.5 sacks against Arizona -- with all his sacks coming in 2013, the year the Cardinals were the only team to beat Seattle at home while they were en route to winning the Super Bowl.

”It’s a lot of respect,” Bryant said. “Like I told Coach earlier and I told the general manager that being in Seattle we gained a lot of respect for the Cardinals.”

Offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin joked Thursday that the sight of Bryant may cause a few nightmares for right tackle Bobby Massie, who had to block Bryant in 2012.

“That guy is a great player,” Goodwin said. “He can make a difference and it's good to have him,” Goodwin said. “It’s a big body. He’s hard to move and he’s still athletic.”