RENTON, WA - Throughout the offseason, with numerous friends such as safety Quandre Diggs already on the roster for a consistent title contender, Damon Harrison had his sights set on becoming a Seahawk.
But with COVID-19 wreaking havoc and questions persisting about whether or not the NFL would be able to conduct a season, the veteran defensive tackle opted not to sign with a team prior to training camp. He wanted to see for himself how the league would handle travel and other pertinent issues before making a decision to suit up for Seattle or any other team.
As the calendar flipped into September and the regular season kicked off amid much uncertainty, however, Harrison started to get an itch to play again. A certain factor at home played a role in his growing interest in returning to the field.
"Honestly, it was being in the home with my kids full time during the season," Harrison joked, "Kind of made me want to jump back out there a little bit."
Switching to a bit more serious tone, the man affectionally known as "Snacks" told reporters that as he got a better feel for how the NFL handled the COVID-19 situation, he became more comfortable with the league's plan. Ready to play, he made the decision to uproot his family of nine - including one-year old twins and a five-month old - to the Pacific Northwest and after undergoing testing, he signed with the Seahawks in early October.
Since that time, the 350-pound Harrison has been working his way back into football shape as a member of the practice squad, waiting for his chance to make his debut. While he hoped to play sooner, even with overtures from the Buccaneers and Dolphins to sign with their active rosters, Seattle was where he wanted to be all along and he wasn't interested in moving his family again.
"I was at home working out, trying to do as much as I could without exposing myself in too many public situations," Harrison explained. "But I spoke to coach [Pete Carroll] and general manager [John Schneider] before I got here and we knew it was going to be a process. That's why I've been okay with it, just working from the ground up."
Now in his sixth week with the organization, Harrison finally looks poised to make his Seahawks debut. Last weekend, second-year defensive tackle Bryan Mone suffered a high ankle sprain, the team suddenly has a need for a run-stuffing nose tackle and considering his All-Pro pedigree, there couldn't be a better insurance option.
Coming out of William Penn as an undrafted free agent in 2012, Harrison has produced 485 tackles, 11.0 sacks, and 37 tackles for loss in 117 career games for the Jets, Giants, and Lions. On three different occasions, he finished with more than 70 tackles, including a career-high 86 stops in 2016.
Though Harrison admitted he doesn't quite know where he will fit in until he's actually on the field playing, he said some of Seattle's defensive fronts are similar to ones he's played in for other teams earlier in his career, while there have been plenty of new looks for him to learn.
"Whatever they've been doing in the past that's been working for the guys in the middle, I just want to add to it," Harrison commented. "I don't want to change anything and they haven't asked me to change anything cause it's kind of similar."
At the end of the day, Harrison is eager for the opportunity to get back on the field after dealing with numerous obstacles on his journey to Seattle. Calling it a "humbling" experience, he's been blown away by coaches and players keeping a one-track mind focused on winning games and he's ready to show he's got plenty left in the tank to contribute to that cause.
"I knew a lot of guys on the team already... It's been great, everyone has been welcoming, helping me out, and trying to navigate through this new time in my life."