Damon Harrison spent the first three weeks of training camp on the non-football injury list last summer, when he said in a new podcast he was trying to orchestrate a trade to a new team, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reports.
Harrison, who was released by the Lions in February, said on the “Green Light” podcast with former NFL player Chris Long that he never felt comfortable playing in Matt Patricia’s defense and had to get out of Detroit even though he respects Patricia as a coach.
“I came into camp in shape, but during the first three weeks of camp I think I kind of worked myself out of shape because I wasn’t doing anything,” Harrison told Long. “That was a time where, to be honest with you, we were trying to facilitate a trade. I was hell-bent on getting out of there.”
Harrison played last season only after signing a one-year contract extension that paid him about $2.2 million more than he was scheduled to make in 2019.
He had a down year with 49 tackles, his lowest total since his rookie season, and said he was worried about health problems his wife had with gallstones during camp.
“Mentally I was just out of it, man,” he said. “I couldn’t focus on football. I was too busy trying to get caught back up with everything. It was a rough training camp for me, the roughest training camp of my career, and I just spent a lot of time just pondering my future.”
Harrison said his issues with playing for the Lions started about the time he learned of his trade to Detroit.
The Lions traded a fifth-round pick to the New York Giants for Harrison in October of 2018. And while he immediately helped improve the Lions’ run defense, he said he never was comfortable with the scheme.
“To be completely honest with you, I didn’t want to go to Detroit because of some things that I heard from some guys in the past and some guys who were there,” Harrison said. “So when I got the call that that’s where I was traded, I didn’t answer the phone for a couple hours. (Lions general manager) Bob Quinn was calling me and I didn’t pick up the phone because I was trying to figure out a way to get out of it.”
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