“Excruciating” rehab got Harrison Phillips fully back and ready for the season

Buffalo Bills

Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Harrison Phillips, left, and center Mitch Morse work during pregame warmups on the ninth day of NFL football training camp at Bills Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y., Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020. (James P. McCoy/Buffalo News via AP, Pool)

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — As ready as all of the Bills are to get out on the field and hit someone in a different colored jersey, you’d be hard pressed to find someone more excited to get back out on the field than defensive tackle Harrison Phillips.

After 330 days of rehab for two knee surgeries, including an ACL tear, “Horrible Harry” is a week and a half away from playing in his first NFL game since September 22nd, 2019. The process to get back to playing shape was anything but easy, but Phillips is relieved to be back.

“That process was long, but I appreciate it so much because when you go through an exodus like that, you learn so much about yourself,” Harrison Phillips said to reporters on Zoom on Thursday. “Now when anything that I go through, whether it’s training camp, not getting this play, not getting that play, there’s always the perspective that I’m still healthy and I can still play, so how bad can it be? It was a long rehab but the team here that the Bills provided did a great job to keep me healthy.”

While Phillips may be completely healed physically, there’s still the reality that when you go through a grueling injury like that, it takes a toll on you mentally.

“I feel healthy, obviously I am, I came to training camp and put some great things on film, but there’s still some times I’m thinking about my knee instead of the play,” Phillips said. “So some of that’s difficult, when I go and watch the film, I know I can do better, I know I can be better, I know I have been better.

“It’s easy to play Monday morning quarterback and say just plant harder, cut off of this, those quick millisecond decisions is difficult. There was that whole mental rollercoaster knowing every time I go out there on the field, there’s a chance I get hurt.”

Even if he may be thinking about his injury in the back of his mind every time he takes the field, Phillips says there’s no way he’s going to let it effect his game or the number of snaps he takes during a game.

“I can go 250 snaps against the Jets, whatever Coach McDermott tells me to do, I’m doing it,” Phillips laughed. “I don’t know for a fact, I’m ballparking, but every two hour practice, every scrimmage, we’re getting a minimum of 35 snaps each practice, and that’s for the team periods, not including one on one pass rush, individual periods. The whole defensive line is probably getting closer to 45 snaps at 100%, getting off the ball and using their hands in the practice, so obviously we’ll be capable. Whatever fashion they can, I know my body definitely can take 35 snaps a game, no question.”

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