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Eli Harold is excited about both fatherhood, his return to football

The new father will return to the field this Sunday after missing time due to the birth of his first child.

NFL: New England Patriots at Detroit Lions Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Football has took a secondary role in the life of Detroit Lions linebacker Eli Harold in recent weeks. On October 5, his wife Kelsey gave birth to the couple’s first child. Their daughter Zuri Harold was born early on a Friday morning.

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Harold would miss practice the week leading up to the Lions’ Week 5 clash with the Green Bay Packers and was inactive on gameday. Detroit was on a bye in Week 6, meaning that Wednesday was the first time he practiced with the team as a father.

“A bye is always good. I’ve had 2 byes.” Harold jokingly said of his long absence from the team. “I feel like I’ve been away from ball too long.”

The linebacker is experiencing fatherhood for the first time. While it isn’t football, it’s still a challenge for the four-year NFL veteran.

“She’s running us, she’s doing what she wants to do,” Harold said of Zuri.

His sleep schedule still hasn’t been totally the same since the birth of his daughter, and the linebackers said that he has changed around 20 diapers in the past few weeks. Despite the challenges, Harold couldn’t be enjoying fatherhood any more than he is.

“I’m enjoying it though, it’s amazing.”

Harold was in the midst of his best season before his leave. The linebacker had 3.0 sacks in the four games he played this season, including two in the Lions’ shocking win over the New England Patriots. He’s recorded five tackles this season and has been a valuable piece in both pass rushing and defending the run this season.

The linebacker was one of the later additions to Matt Patricia’s Lions team. He came from San Francisco in a trade midway through preseason. The former third-round pick struggled during his time with the 49ers, but he seems to have found his footing in Detroit.

While he is excited to return to the Lions, he is aware of the challenges coming this week. The Miami Dolphins offense features veteran running back Frank Gore, an all-time great back that Harold ran into last season when Gore was on the Colts.

“He’s tough. He’s gritty. He loves all the dirty work,” Harold said, praising his opposition this week. “It’s incredible.”

These past few months have featured the beginning of many new chapters for the young linebacker. Between the move to Detroit, playing for a new team and now becoming a father, things are very different for Harold this season than they have been in his previous ones.

The one constant for him has been football, though, and he says he’s just “ready to get back out there this Sunday.”