Bills Player Who Collapsed Set for Saturday's Game

Buffalo's Damar Hamlin to play in season opener, his first competition since his January cardiac arrest
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 12, 2023 11:30 AM CDT
Damar Hamlin Set to Play in Bills' Preseason Opener
Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin warms up during practice at the NFL team's training camp in Pittsford, New York, on July 30.   (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus, File)

Damar Hamlin has reached another major milestone in his return to football. The Bills safety was scheduled to suit up and play in Buffalo's preseason opener against the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday, per the AP. The game will mark the first time Hamlin has appeared in a competitive setting since going into cardiac arrest and needing to be resuscitated on the field during a game at Cincinnati on Jan. 2. What seemed unfathomable in those frightening first moments, and during the nine-day stay in two hospitals that followed, has become a reality for the 25-year-old Hamlin, who put his fears aside in April by announcing his intention to resume his playing career after being medically cleared to return.

In that time, the Bills have eased Hamlin back on the field, starting with him taking part in individual drills in May, followed by team drills a week later. Two weeks ago, the third-year safety took another major step by experiencing his first thud of a hit in the Bills' first full-padded practice of training camp. "I made the choice to play," Hamlin said at the time. "But I'm processing a thousand emotions. I'm not afraid to say that it crosses my mind of being a little scared here and there." But, he added, "my faith is stronger than any fear. That's what I want to preach up here. And that's the message I want to spread on to the world that as long as your faith is stronger than your fear, you can get through anything."

Hamlin said then that it was too early to look ahead to the preseason, as he wanted to stay in the moment. He'll get his chance on Saturday, with coach Sean McDermott telling the AP that Hamlin is scheduled to play. And Hamlin will have rooting support on the opposite sideline. Receiver Isaiah McKenzie, who signed with the Colts this offseason after spending the previous four-plus years in Buffalo, has already arranged to exchange jerseys with Hamlin following the game. After two more preseason games, Hamlin's next hurdle will come on Aug. 29, when the Bills make their final cuts to establish their regular-season roster. Hamlin has displayed no signs of a setback or hesitation during training camp in seeking to resecure one of the backup spots behind returning starters Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer.

(More Damar Hamlin stories.)

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