BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – After missing most of the 2019 season, Bills defensive tackle, Harrison Phillips is ready to get back on the football field.
“It’s gonna be like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. I have so much emotion even thinking about it. It’s gonna be amazing, I can’t wait and I’m even more happy to do it for this team and for this city and stuff. I’ve put in hundreds and hundreds and thousands of hours working out and rehabbing and doing everything to get ready for that moment so I just can’t wait to live it,” Phillips explained.
In week three last season against the Bengals, Phillips tore his ACL that caused him to miss the rest of his second season in the NFL. After surgery and over seven months of rehab, Phillips thinks he’ll be ready for the start of training camp.
“I’ve actually made some really good strides while I’ve been away and that’s what kind of makes me optimistic about being back by training camp,” Phillips explained.
That includes getting workouts from the strength and conditioning coaches in Buffalo. His girlfriend, Shae, then tapes the exercises so he can send the videos back to the Bills for feedback. But there’s one drill he can’t get from home that will truly indicate how he’s feeling.
“I think that strength and speed wise and things like that I’m really coming around, maybe 80%-85% but until I have to go against a body I just won’t know. It’ll be kind of hard because we’re not back right now so I do hope when we can get back and I can have a body to work against. But I think that there’s a really good chance that I’ll be a good football player come training camp,” Phillips said.
And Phillips hopes that is true because he now has more competition and guys to beat out for a spot on the 53-man roster.
“We’ve got you know ten to twelve guys who’ve played legitimate football and we’ve gotta cut that down. So I think there’s gonna be tons of competition and that’s even more motivation for me to make sure I nail this rehab because come training camp there’s no handouts. I have to earn my spot on this team and there’s a lot of new faces to compete with,” Phillips said.
Something GM Brandon Beane can’t add enough of to this group, competition. That was a big emphasis in free agency and in the draft. While they lost Shaq Lawson and Jordan Phillips, they made moves to hopefully fill those voids.
“Shaq and Jordan are tremendous football players. I’m so happy that they earned the right to go get paid and get all that. It sucks to see them leave but this team that we have right now I believe is deeper and more competitive up front than it was the last year,” Phillips said.
One of those new additions is former Iowa defensive end, A.J. Epenesa who the Bills drafted 54th overall with their first pick this year.
“Unbelievable pick. It shows that we’re definitely trying to draft best available and he seems like a stud. I like his versatility where he might be able to play a couple positions for us,” Phillips said.
And Phillips wasted no time reaching out to one of the newest members of the Bills defensive line.
“So during the draft right after we draft a player, I like to send them all a text message welcoming him to the familyand stuff. During all the hecticness he still hit me back and sent me a nice text message about being ready to work. So I told him I can’t wait to play with him and get our pass rush going and all that so I’m happy to have another young guy,” Phillips explained.
That’s another plus about Epenesa, among many is he adds some much needed youth to that defensive end group. And it wasn’t that long ago, Phillips was in the same position of transitioning to the NFL. That’s why he feels it’s part of his job to bring these young guys along.
“When we draft a player in your room you feel more responsibly that he’s kind of your child to help grow up so I want to make sure I’m a good resource for him and I can be a leader to show him how we do things in Buffalo,” Phillips said.