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Damon Harrison said he was trying to get himself off the Detroit Lions during the first three weeks of training camp to open the 2019 season.
Harrison appeared on the “Green Light” podcast over the weekend and told host Chris Long he wasn’t exactly comfortable with coach Matt Patricia’s defense, though he said he respects him 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,” the nose tackle said. “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, now a free agent, admitted he was “out of it” last season. He recorded 49 tackles and two sacks in his first full season with the Lions. He was acquired in a trade with the New York Giants in 2018.
“Mentally I was just out of it, man,” Harrison 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 when he was traded he didn’t even want to pick up the phone when general manager Bob Quinn called.
“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,” he said. “So when I got the call that that’s where I was traded, I didn’t answer the phone for a couple hours. 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.”
Harrison hopes to play in 2020. He was emotional at the end of the 2019 season when he was asked what the future held for him.
“I've given everything I can give,” he said. “Nobody is more disappointed about this season and my performance than I am. I'm hard on myself, man. Like I said, I've given everything to every team I've played for. I don't feel bad if that's the decision. I've got a lot of thinking to do this offseason. I'm going to seek some different options and try to figure it out because I can't be that guy that I want to be and I know I can be then I've got to hang it up because everybody deserves that.
“When you can't make the plays you're used to making, and you go back and watch the film and you know you don't have any excuses, I think it's just a situation where my mind is saying yes, but my body is saying … I just got to fix it.”
Harrison broke into the league as an undrafted free agent with the New York Jets. He emerged as a solid defensive lineman, and as a free agent in 2016, he signed with the Giants. With the Giants, he earned his lone All-Pro selection but became a casualty of the organization’s restructuring and was traded to the Lions.