Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin returned to practice on Tuesday as he donned his familiar No. 3 blue practice jersey at the team’s voluntary minicamp.
His return has been extraordinary, coming just five months after he had to be resuscitated on the field on January 2 after colliding with Tee Higgins of the Cincinnati Bengals in scenes that rocked the NFL.
The 25-year-old was recently cleared by doctors to return to football following his cardiac arrest. At a recent press conference, Hamlin said commotio cordis was the cause.
Although he was prevented from participating in team sessions, Hamlin participated in individual exercises and stretching parties to open and end training in taking the next steps towards resuming his career as a footballer.
“We’re taking it one day at a time and supporting Damar in every way we can,” coach Sean McDermott said.
Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin returned to training on Tuesday five months after his collapse
The 25-year-old participated in individual exercises and stretching games
Otherwise, he didn’t provide any timetable as to when the player can fully return to training.
Defensive backs coach John Butler shed light on the team’s approach to Hamlin’s training routine saying it’s based on constant communication between the player and the medical staff Bills.
“It’s the Damar process,” Butler said. “All we can do is listen, communicate with him and try to be on the same level as him.”
The Bills’ slow approach to Hamlin’s involvement appears to be consistent with how they’ve relieved other players after serious injuries. And that’s understandable as far as Hamlin is concerned, given how much time he missed during a lengthy recovery process that limited him to a lot of physical exertion before showing up for the voluntary tea training program on last month.
Hamlin tackled Bengals receiver Higgins in the Week 17 game before he got to his feet, wobbled and collapsed on the turf at Paycor Stadium, where he needed to be resuscitated.
He was administered oxygen, placed on a stretcher and rushed to a local hospital in critical condition. In his own words, he “died on national television.”
There was widespread speculation that Hamlin had suffered from commotio cordis, but that diagnosis was only confirmed at a press conference last month, where the Pittsburgh native said he hoped to raise awareness about the disease.
Hamlin still needed a ventilator to help him breathe for several weeks after he was released from hospital in mid-January.
He was barred from team sessions as the Bills gently brought him back
Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott says they’re taking Hamlin’s return one day at a time
He’s made it clear he wants to get back into the game. Saying his heart is still in the game, Hamlin announced his return to the NFL just over a month ago after being cleared to play by the Bills and several independent specialists.
Unwilling to give in to fear and worry, Hamlin said there was little chance of the episode happening again as he revealed specialists agreed his heart had stopped following a commotio cordis, which is a direct blow at a specific time of a heartbeat that causes cardiac arrest.
“It was a life-changing event, but it’s not the end of my story,” Hamlin said last month.
Now that he’s focused on getting back to playing football, Hamlin’s next steps will be no different than any other NFL player in his bid to secure a roster spot for his third season. The Bills still have two weeks of voluntary practice before opening a mandatory minicamp in mid-June, followed by the opening of training camp in late July.
Players stand together after Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin (3) collapses in Cincinnati
“It’s a miracle,” Butler said, assessing how far Hamlin has come since January.
“Having him there, in drills, in tours, in meetings and just day to day, I think is amazing,” he added. “But from where he’s going, I think he’s definitely going in the right direction.”
Hamlin’s recovery was described as remarkable by the doctors who treated him. He spent the first days of his recovery in a medically induced coma at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. His motor and cognitive abilities quickly returned, and he spent 10 days in hospitals in Cincinnati and Buffalo before being released.
Hamlin’s collapse resulted in an outpouring of support from across the NFL and across North America, with donations made to Hamlin’s charity exceeding $9 million. And his recovery has been celebrated, with the player being honored by the NFL, the NFL Players Association and most recently selected by the Professional Football Writers of America as the winner of the George Halas Award, which is given to an NFL player, coach or staff. . member who overcomes adversity to succeed.