Damar Hamlin makes an early impression as he returns to the field in the Bills pre-season game against the Colts

ORCHARD PARK, NY (AP) — Damar Hamlin achieved another major milestone in his return to football when he lined up for Buffalo’s preseason opener against the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday.

It wasn’t long before the Bills’ safety made itself felt in his first appearance in a competitive field since suffering cardiac arrest during a game in Cincinnati on Jan. 2 and requiring on-field CPR.

On his second defensive snap, Hamlin broke the line and brought down running back Evan Hull without stopping the Colts from converting a four-and-1 at Buffalo’s 40. Hamlin was initially credited with an assist on tackle before being awarded a solo tackle.

In Buffalo’s next defensive run, Hamlin made two consecutive plays of tackles, and cheers erupted from the crowd each time his name was mentioned. Hamlin was part of Buffalo’s kickoff coverage unit after James Cook hit an 8-yard TD run 3:22 into the game.

Overall, Hamlin appeared on more than two defensive series that overlapped in the first and second quarters and was credited with three tackles. He spent the second half watching from the sidelines in his pads and trainers.

What seemed unimaginable in those frightening opening moments and subsequent nine-day stay in two hospitals has become a reality for 25-year-old Hamlin, who announced in April he was planning to resume his playing career after receiving medical clearance to return.

Since then, the Bills have got Hamlin back on the field, first taking part in individual practice in May, followed by team practice a week later. Two weeks ago, the third-year safety took another big step when he experienced his first hit in the Bills’ first fully-padded practice session at training camp.

“I made the decision to play. But I process a thousand emotions. I’m not afraid to say that it crosses my mind to be a little scared here and there,” Hamlin said at the time. “My faith is stronger than any fear. That’s what I want to preach here. And that’s the message I want to convey to the world: As long as your faith is stronger than your fear, you can get through anything.”

Hamlin said it was too early to look ahead to pre-season because he wanted to stay put for now.

Hamlin’s return was briefly put on hold as a thunderstorm swept through the region about 75 minutes before kick-off. After a delay of about half an hour, the players returned to the field to warm up before the game.

Dressed fully in uniform and body armor, Hamlin had his helmet on as he took the field with his fellow defenders.

Previously, the NFL posted a short video of Hamlin’s arrival at the stadium on its social media account with the message, “Welcome back @HamlinIsland.” In the video, Hamlin makes his familiar heart sign and extends three fingers to enter the tunnel display his jersey number.

During the pre-game warm-up, Hamlin hugged Bills receiver Stefon Diggs.

And Hamlin had strong support on the other end.

Receiver Isaiah McKenzie, who signed with the Colts this offseason after previously spending more than four years in Buffalo, has already agreed on a post-game jersey swap with Hamlin.

After two more preseason games, Hamlin’s next hurdle will come on August 29, when the Bills make their final cuts to finalize their regular-season roster.

Hamlin has shown no sign of setback or hesitation during training camp as he attempts to secure one of the substitute spots behind returning starters Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer.

Tom Vazquez

Tom Vazquez is a USTimeToday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Tom Vazquez joined USTimeToday in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with Tom Vazquez by emailing tomvazquez@ustimetoday.com.

Related Articles

Back to top button