ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WROC) — The first day in full pads for the Bills was like Christmas for Harrison Phillips.
The road to get there was more like the Nightmare Before Christmas.
Phillips has been recovering from a torn ACL for the last 330 days, and yes, he’s been keeping track.
Today Phillips pulled back the curtain at the long and sometimes dark road to recovery.
“Five, six-hour days. Working, sweating, crying, throwing up from how hard I was going,” says Phillips. “There was definitely some depression through there. There was definitely anxiousness, anxiety, fear. I remember having a conversation with a couple of trainers, a very emotional rehab day where I was sitting there like, ‘What if I can’t play again? What if this doesn’t get better? What if I don’t get stronger?'”
But he did get stronger and he was cleared for full contact for today’s practice. His teammates know how tough his rehab was and they are glad to see him back out on the field.
“I know it’s emotional for him. It’s always emotional coming back from injuries like that,” says linebacker Tremaine Edmunds. “Being out there with your brothers, that’s the greatest thing about this game. Being out there with the guys that you go to work with every single day. We’re happy to have him back out there.”
Before practice, Sean McDermott said that you always get excited before the first day of padded-practice. That’s whether or not you’re a little kid or a professional athlete. But the excitement of Phillips today was a little bit more than usual.
“My heart was racing. It was like I drank a couple cups of coffee. I just kept saying a lot of prayers. I just kept looking down,” Phillips says. “I was like, ‘Wow, this is really it’. No training wheels. No, ‘hey, Harrison come off on the side. We’re gonna do it half speed’. It’s like ‘Hey, 9 on 7, you’re up. Team run. Go get double teamed by some 300-pound men.'”
Phillips says he’s still getting comfortable and confident on the knee, but even took a huge jump today from where he was on Friday.
There’s just 27 days away from the Bills season-opener. You may not be counting, but there’s a pretty good chance Phillips is.
And you know he’ll be excited and ready to go.