Harrison Phillips feels healthy, ready to contribute to Bills defense

Phillips is a little heavier this season, but his body fat is down

Orchard Park, N.Y. (WGR 550) – When it comes to the defensive tackle position for the Buffalo Bills, Harrison Phillips is in competition with Ed Oliver and Justin Zimmer. The competition at the other tackle spot includes Star Lotulelei, Vernon Butler, Brandin Bryant, Treyvon Hester and Eli Ankou.

With names like that on the roster, Phillips realizes he has good competition around him.

“Everybody does that counting game, but we’re early on and there’s preseason games left to be played," said Phillips following Monday's training camp practice in Orchard Park. "You’ve just got to put your best foot forward every day, and when you get the opportunity to turn it on in these preseason games, you gotta show everyone, not only this organization, but every other organization too. That’s the benefit of having those preseason games.”

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Phillips is in his fourth season with the Bills after being a third round pick (96th overall) of the Bills in the 2018 NFL Draft. He suffered a torn ACL in the third game of the 2019 season, which shelved him for the rest of the year.

Last year, the 25-year-old struggled to get back to form and was inactive for some games. He managed to play 12 games, registering 18 tackles, four quarterback hits and a fumble recovery.

Heading into the 2021 season, Phillips believes things are going really well for him.

“Last year, having to focus so much on the rehab component and getting my lower-body right took time away, you can only spend so many hours in the gym to allocate time for recovery and sleep," Phillips said. "So this offseason, I’m feeling a lot more healthy in my knees. It’s allowed me to get my body where it could move a little bit better, more explosive. So I’m focused on a lot of power stuff. Getting my lower-body as strong as I possibly can puts me in the best position to help out this football team.”

Phillips said he put on about four pounds this offseason, but he called it “better weight,” because his body fat is down and his muscle mass is up. He said he weighs around 309 pounds.

Training camp this season is relatively normal compared to last season. Phillips said that means they’re getting better work in.

“It’s definitely a competitive advantage going into this training camp compared to last year with the attendance that we had in the spring," he said. "It’s just to get that comradery going, build that team identity, as well as the cohesion that it takes, up front especially, with offensive and defensive lines, running games, timing. So to get as many combinations as we could early, I think gives us a good leg up here in training camp.”

The return of Lotulelei should really help the defense in the run game, because he can keep offensive linemen off of linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, allowing him to use his speed to roam free.

Lotulelei opted out last season because of COVID-19, and Phillips loves having his running mate back.

“Having Star back is good, because he’s a good friend of mine and he does some great leadership stuff," Phillips said of Lotulelei. "He’s not necessarily the 'hooray in your face'-type motivator, but he always is grabbing people in 1-on-1s and leads that way. I think that’s really, really powerful, especially with the young guys we have up front. It’s great to have him around.”

The first preseason test comes Friday night in Detroit against the Lions.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Rich Barnes - USA TODAY Sports