Just like that, Forrest Lamp's rookie season was over before it began.
The ACL injury occurred on the third day of padded practices at training camp, and the team's second-round pick a year ago remembers every little vivid detail.
"It was a zone run, and I was double teaming with Joe Barksdale the defensive end up to the linebacker," he recalled. "I took a step to block Denzel Perryman, and my knee kind of just gave out. As soon as I hit him, I felt it. As soon as I took that step before I hit him, my knee gave out and there was a real bad burning sensation. I took a step and my knee caved in. It was kind of a freak accident. I knew it was something serious because I tried to get up, and I took a couple steps, but my leg just didn't feel right. So I sat back down, and sure enough, it was a torn ACL. It was horrible."
What helped raise his spirits in the immediate aftermath were words of encouragement from those who've suffered similar injuries. That includes the likes of Philip Rivers and Keenan Allen.
"It was really hard because I waited three weeks to have surgery so the swelling would go down," he explained. "Those were the worst three weeks because you can't really do any rehab. Then after the surgery, it was go time. I already had three weeks to be upset. What was awesome was guys who had been hurt in the past with ACLs came up to me. Keenan, (Nick) Dzubnar, Phil and a bunch of other guys. As soon as they found out, they came up to me and told me, 'I had the same thing. You're going to be just fine.'"
The fact that Allen just earned AP Comebacker Player of the Year honors one season after suffering the same injury as Lamp is particularly reassuring.
"Keenan told me he just had ACL surgery and he was just fine. He said, 'I'm in camp and I'm doing everything I'm supposed to be doing.' And then to see what he did this year after the same surgery, it's encouraging for sure. Seeing him have the success he's had, and Phil tore his ACL and he's been just fine. There have been tons of guys."
It's no secret the Bolts had high hopes for Lamp in 2018.
The Western Kentucky product was considered the consensus top guard prospect, and nearly every expert called him the steal of the draft.
While it was a blow to lose him for the entire season, their optimism over Lamp's future hasn't dimmed one bit. The good news is the guard feels even better than he expected at this juncture.
Now, as he sits dripping with sweat six-and-a-half months after suffering his injury, Lamp was asked to give an open and honest assessment of his progress.
His answer should be music to fans' ears.
"I'm feeling really good so far," he said. "I'm five months post-OP, and coming along really good. The training staff and I have been working Monday through Friday, and we've been starting to run and do things like that. Like Tom (Telesco) said, I should be back for camp and ready to go."
In case anyone forgot, there's a reason why Lamp garnered major buzz heading into last year's draft.
The 6-4, 310-pound four-year starter and two-time team captain did not allow a single sack over his final two seasons with the Hilltoppers. Equally impressive, he only allowed four QB pressures in 558 pass attempts during his final season at Western Kentucky. As a result, he often drew comparisons to Dallas Cowboys' perennial All-Pro lineman Zack Martin throughout the draft process.
If that's not enough of a refresher, Lamp weighed in on what fans should know about his strengths, as well as what he is still working to improve.
"I never played guard in college," he said. "I only played left tackle. The offense we were in at Western Kentucky was mainly a pass offense. So I think I'm a really good pass blocker. I think I have a lot there going for me. I'm still getting used to pulling and things like that because I never did a lot of that during college since I was playing tackle. So hopefully I can help add to what the offensive line did this year."
While it may have been a lost season on the field, the silver lining is how much he absorbed in the classroom. Lamp was present at nearly every meeting, soaking up the entire experience.
"During the year I was here Monday through Friday," he explained. "So after rehab, I would come to meetings Tuesday through Friday. That was really helpful, just to stay in the offense. Even in the offseason now, I've been out of meetings for a month or so, but the plays are still in the back of my head and I go over them every day. So being in the meetings was important because that can be really hard for a rookie."
Missing his entire rookie campaign also gave him a greater appreciation for the game he loves, further lighting a fire under Lamp during his rehab process. Now, he can't wait to join a unit that surrendered the fewest sacks in the NFL (18).
"I was really excited for our team. The majority of the games I stayed at home and watched just because I couldn't be on the sideline. I wouldn't be able to move or get out of the way if someone came my way and hit me. So most of the games I watched at home, and it was awesome watching the guys. Watching that and not being able to play, it definitely gives you more motivation. It was the first time I'd ever been really injured, and so this was the first time I'd ever been away from the team. So it definitely gave me more motivation to come back, be part of the team and show what I can do. I'm really excited to jump back in and be part of the group."
That all starts when the team reconvenes at Hoag Performance Center in April. When the time comes, perhaps no player will be more eager to get going than Lamp.
"I'm really looking forward to this offseason," he said. "I know everyone else is enjoying their time off, but I've had (enough time) off. I've been away from football for long enough. Everybody is always itching to get back, but I'm also just itching to be around the team and build the relationships I didn't get a chance to over the year."