Kelvin Harmon wasn't even close to getting on the field this time last year. His only focus was being ready for 2021. Now training camp is days away, and he's ready to make his case.
Harmon tore his ACL shortly before training camp, sidelining him for the rest of the year and ending what many, Ron Rivera included, thought was an opportunity to develop after a promising rookie year.
It was a long rehabilitation process, but he was back on the field during OTAs as well as minicamp and is determined to stand out among Washington's deeper, more talented wide receiver room as training camp looms closer.
"I feel a lot better than I anticipated," Harmon said during minicamp. "You're always nervous and not sure until you get out there, and I feel like I'm more explosive than I thought. I feel faster than in my rookie year."
You can give Washington's medical staff credit for that. Harmon has been working out at the facility throughout his rehab, spending time on an exercise bike to build up his strength. He worked out in swimming pools to get more comfortable walking again.
The time immediately after the surgery was the most difficult. He dealt with the pain in his leg and relied on his faith, family and close friends to get him through it. The training staff catered to his needs by steadily taking him through his recovery. It was a good schedule, Harmon said, and he pushed himself every day.
When he finally got back on the field with his teammates, he was surprised at how much progress he had made.
"You workout by yourself the whole time, so when you have other players who've been healthy the whole time and you get to see yourself compared to everybody else, you see how explosive you look," Harmon said. "I feel like I haven't missed a beat."
Washington's receiver room has been heavily upgraded in the past year. Veterans like Terry McLaurin and Cam Sims have taken more steps in their development, and the additions of Curtis Samuel, Dyami Brown and Adam Humphries show that the coaches are pushing for more production from the group as a whole.
That doesn't come as a surprise to Harmon. Nothing stays the same in the NFL, he said, and he feels that Washington has put together a competitive group. He also knows he is part of why the position is so competitive, and that means there will be plenty of opportunities for players to prove themselves.
There are two areas Harmon feels the most comfortable in proving himself. The first is in making contested catches; It's why Pro Football Focus ranked him as the 12th-best receiver prospect in the 2019 NFL Draft and what helped quarterbacks has a 118.4 passer rating when targeting him. His 57.9% contested catch rate during his rookie season was sixth-best in the NFL.
The other area is as a blocker. That was an area Jim Hostler mentioned the offense was going to more of prior to his injury. He's a physical guy, Hostler said, with his 6-foot-2, 215-pound frame, and Harmon is not afraid to use that size.
"Whether it's on a linebacker, a safety or a D-end," Harmon said, "I'm gonna put my nose in there and put somebody on the ground. So I definitely feel that's something I can bring to the table."
That doesn't necessarily guarantee Harmon a spot on the roster, but it's a foundation for him to grow and evolve, which he said every player should be prepared to do.
"I just gotta stay in my lane and be where I need to be and make the plays I need to make," he said.
Seeing where Harmon fits in Washington's new-look receiver room will be one of the many storylines at the position. But one thing he has going for him is his mindset, and if he attacks training camp with the same attitude as his rehab, he should be in good shape.
"I feel like I'm ahead of schedule," Harmon said. "And I'll definitely be full go for camp."