Harmon says ACL injury felt like 'somebody shot me like 80 times' originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
As the Washington Football Team aimed to take a major step forward in 2020, wide receiver Kelvin Harmon was supposed to do the same.
The 2019 sixth-round pick caught 30 passes his rookie season, and Year 2 was an opportunity to command a larger role. That never happened, however, as Harmon tore his ACL last June and missed the entire campaign.
A year later, Harmon is back on the field and vying for a spot on the final roster. As he returns to live-action, he's even surprised himself in terms of where he is at physically.
“Yeah, I feel a lot better than I anticipated. You know, you’re always nervous or not sure until you get out there and I feel like I’m more explosive than I thought," Harmon said. "And I feel faster than last year, well my rookie year. So I feel a lot better and I feel like I’m ahead of schedule. And I’m definitely full-go for camp.”
Part of the reason Harmon has impressed himself with his performance during OTAs is due to how grueling the rehabilitation process was. When describing the pain, the receiver didn't mince words.
“Physically in my leg, it felt like somebody shot me like 80 times," Harmon said. "So my leg was really hurting.”
Yet by working on his flexibility, training consistently with Washington's staff and having a strong mental support group, Harmon was able to overcome one of the biggest challenges of his life.
It's not that Harmon didn't believe he was healthy before stepping on the field in 2021, but working alongside other NFL players showed him just how good he was feeling.
“Yeah I definitely was [surprised], you know, cause you work out by yourself your whole time so when you have other players who have been healthy the whole time you get to see yourself compared to everybody else," Harmon said. "You see how explosive you look and I feel like I haven’t missed a beat compared to the other guys.”
The other guys in the wide receiver room are players that Harmon will continue to be compared to as minicamp and training camp approach. Since he was last on the field in 2019, there has been a lot of turnover at the position. Notably, the acquisitions of Adam Humphries, Curtis Samuel and Dyami Brown along with the emergence of Cam Sims will make it challenging for Harmon to find playing time.
The receiver has potential, but as he rejoins the team, he understands that nothing is guaranteed in a room filled with talent. Still, he believes he has plenty to offer for the team.
“I think it’s a good room, it’s a competitive room and we have a lot of players," Harmon said. "And I know I’m part of the reason why it’s competitive as well. So, it’s going to be a lot of opportunities out there for everybody to go out there and make plays.”
“I’m a big jump-ball guy, I go down there and make those contested catches," Harmon said. "And I’ll also go down there and make a block. Whether it’s on a linebacker, a safety or the D-end, I'm gonna put my nose in there and put somebody on the ground. So I think that’s definitely something I’m bringing to the table.”
In addition to the wide receiver room changing, the organization as a whole is different compared to when Harmon last played. Ron Rivera is now in charge and the culture has been revamped.
Even though Harmon wasn't active during that period of transition, he's noticed the positive strides the franchise has taken under the new regime.
“It’s really good, I have a ton of respect for coach Rivera and the other coaches on the staff. And I definitely see the change in the culture than when I was here my rookie year and I see it’s gone forward," Harmon said. "And I think it’s really good, it’s only the beginning and we’re going to get better.”
That includes a trip to the playoffs in 2020. Though Harmon wasn't a part of that, he still knows it will act as a push in the right direction for 2021 and beyond. This time, though, he can help make an impact.
“Yeah it definitely motivated us and I think it also let us know, like, we could have went further than we went last year and that’s just a small taste of what we have in store," Harmon said. "And now we have something to gain, you know, it’s not just about winning the division, it’s about taking that next step. It’s not just about making that playoff run but it’s about winning that game and so on and so on. So it definitely gives us something to get one up on compared to last year.”