Monday morning was a long time coming for Forrest Lamp.
In fact, it's been exactly 12 months, one week and four days in the making as he returned to practice for the first time since tearing his ACL on the third day of training camp a year ago.
It's something the guard has had on his mind throughout the entire rehab process.
"You always have to have a light at the end of the tunnel, no matter what you're doing in life," Lamp said. "You always have to have a goal, (both) short-term (and) long-term. My goal was just to get back out here as soon as I could. Today was my first day of working back into individual and it felt great."
He may have only participated in individual period, but it was oh so sweet for the 6-4, 310-pounder who was activated off the Physically Unable to Perform list earlier in the day.
"It was great," he said, unable to contain his smile. "It was great to be back out here and not with the training staff. (To) back with my teammates and (have) a little camaraderie, so it was nice."
It's been a tough road for Lamp, who was the consensus top guard in the 2017 NFL Draft. Considered a lock to go in the first round, the Chargers were stunned to land him in the second with the 38th overall pick. Pundits throughout the league called it a homerun, considering it the steal of the draft.
Unfortunately, disaster struck on a fluke play early in training camp, delaying Lamp's NFL debut by a year. So, even though he maintained an upbeat approach throughout his rehab, it was an emotional return to the field for the 24-year old.
The even better news is he felt like his old self, which is why he was itching to do even more.
Still, he knew it was wise to abide by the plan the team created for him.
"Yeah, it's hard (not playing in team periods yet because) you want to do everything," he said. "But I have to trust in the training staff and trust in (Head) Coach (Anthony) Lynn. They have a plan for me to work back in slowly. It's hard. You want to jump right back in, but I know that I have to work back in slowly."
"It's huge," Head Coach Anthony Lynn said of getting Lamp back on the field. "It's been a long time for Forrest. He's champing at the bit, man. We're having to hold him back right now."
While returning to individual period was an important moment for Lamp, he still has a number of next steps he must go through, which is why Lynn refuses to put a timetable on his return to game action. As the guard mentioned earlier, the team is wisely taking a cautious approach.
"The plan hasn't changed," Lynn said. "He's just working him back into individual (drills). We hope to get him back in the third week, but like I said, I don't like to put timetables on a player's injuries. When he's ready to go, we'll get him back in the lineup."
At the same time, Lynn made it clear that when Lamp is ready, the Bolts will find a way to get him on the field.
"When he's ready to go, we're definitely going to get him in the rotation. If he's not the starter, Forrest played tackle in college and played guard for us last year (before his injury). He's a versatile guy. We're definitely going to use him."