Living a Dream

PARKERSBURG – Derek Hardman continues to live his dream as he pursues his career in the National Football League.

The former Roane County all-stater and Eastern Kentucky University All-American offensive lineman will try to make the roster of the Detroit Lions after being claimed off waivers from Tampa Bay.

Hardman, who was on Tampa Bay’s 53-man roster at the end of last year, went through offseason workout phases one and two before being released in early May and then joining up with the Lions.

“It turned out really well. We had the OTA (organized team activities) and the minicamp and things are going in the right direction,” said Hardman, who saw action in three games each of the past two seasons on Tampa Bay’s offensive line and made four starts and nine appearances for the Bucs back in 2010.

“Last year I had eight games up and eight games not. I was up and down a lot and I knew I was on the bubble with them (Tampa) to get released.”

Sometimes timing is everything and in this case it was for Hardman since he’s had plenty of time to familiarize himself to the Lions’ system and schemes.

When asked about the change of scenery Hardman quickly replied “the first thing is the weather. To be out there and not to worry it’s 105 degrees at practice is a big deal.

“Other than that I’ve really enjoyed (offensive line) coach (Jeremiah) Washburn and (head) coach (Jim) Schwartz. They are really intense football coaches. I’ve enjoyed being around all the history of the club and it’s been a good summer.”

Hardman, who hasn’t made a start since his rookie campaign, can play both tackle and guard.

Even though the 6-foot-6, 300-pounder wasn’t brought into Detroit to fight for a starting job, there’s no question that’s still his goal and what he works toward every single day.

“I’ve been blessed to be able to play three years in the NFL and to get another one would be a big deal for me,” Hardman noted. “I’m going to do everything I can to make the team and it (camp) can’t start soon enough.

“I can’t wait to get rolling again. My whole career has been a long shot, but it’s worked out for me. I do the best I can and give everything I got and sometimes it works out.”

Despite deep odds of making it through all the cuts and landing on the opening day roster for the Lions, Hardman always has been one to give it his all wherever he’s been. That’s just part of the reason why he’s a guy from a small town like Spencer who continues to live a boyhood dream.

Of course, behind any good man it’s often said there is a good woman and in Hardman’s case that would be his wife Brittany.

“We’ve moved five times in a year and it’s a different kind of lifestyle,” he said. “It’s something she’s got more comfortable with. I don’t think anyone has been comfortable with that lifestyle of moving around a lot.

“But, we’re doing better at it. It’s nice to have kind of a home base in (Barbousville) West Virginia. We love the state and have a lot of support here.”