A year ago, Donavon Clark was enjoying his first round of OTAs after being selected in the seventh round of the 2016 NFL Draft.
Working along the line, the former Michigan State guard was projected to be a backup for the Bolts until a knee injury in the second preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals ended his year before it even began.
"It was really hard," Clark said. "You come in here trying to compete for a job and then know that it went south. I'm just trying to get in here every day doing extra cardio and trying to make sure I'm ready to go. I turned to a lot of guys on the field (for guidance). Especially, my o-line brothers because I'm with them most of all during practice and meetings."
Although 2016 was a redshirt year for Clark, it also turned into a period of growth. In order to get the most out of his rehab, he decided to make changes to his diet that would help him physically.
"I had to get my portion size under control. I noticed a big difference because the most I weighed after surgery was almost 340. Since then, I've lost about 20-25 pounds so I'm down to averaging about 315-320 pounds. Getting my diet right helped with my rehab."
Clark attributes his weight loss mainly to portion control, but said he has since incorporated more fruits and vegetables into his diet for optimal performance.
He said the hardest part about his injury football-wise dealt with having to transition from learning things physically to mentally.
"I got a lot of mental reps, but there's nothing like going out on the field and doing it. It makes a huge difference so it makes you put yourself in a different position. You have to learn from your brothers on the o-line and take mental notes pretending you're in there…. You feel like you're not a part of it yet, but you have to push every day to get back on the field."
As such, he's greatly looking forward to training camp and the preseason where he can get back on the field.
"I'll try to grind every day. I want to get back there with my offensive line brothers because it's hard watching these guys work every day. I haven't played any real, serious football since last August so I'm excited to get back out there and put that helmet on again."