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Aaron Williams injury: Buffalo Bills safety’s recovery almost complete

The Bills’ safety couldn’t feel half his body 11 months ago.

The Buffalo Bills safety suffered a sever neck injury early in the 2015 season, but Aaron Williams appears to be fully back and ready to roll in 2016 at the midway point of training camp.

“Once I dove, I didn’t even realize [Julian] Edelman had also dove—I just closed my eyes and my head hit the ground,” wrote Williams for “I instantly felt a sharp pain and the first thought in my mind was ‘Alright, let’s go. Time bounce back and get ready for the next play.’ That is when I realized I couldn’t feel the left side of my body.”

The feeling in his left side didn’t return until he was in the hospital. When the same numbness happened after delivering a hit at practice later in the season, Williams underwent surgery. While he returned to the practice field late in 2015, there was no reason for the playoff-less Bills to rush him back for a meaningless late-season game.

NFL: New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Once the offseason began, outside observers marked Williams’ progress with milestones from non-contact practice to contact in training camp and the scrimmage over the weekend. In the first padded practice, Williams met behemoth offensive tackle Cordy Glenn near the line of scrimmage and was knocked to the ground.

"I actually was hoping for a flag on that play, because it was a clip," Williams told reporters with a smile afterwards. "But, nah, I just went down. I wasn’t really worried about, you know, falling or anything in that nature. Just get back up and get ready for the next play."

Williams, to his credit, says he is going to remove himself from the field if he feels anything along the lines of what he felt last year - even if it occurs multiple times in a practice.

"Yeah, we’re just out here being smart about it," Williams said. "I would love to test it, but at the same time I’m not going to rush into it. So, there’s no point of having contact on it yet. I’m not going to force myself to do it.”

New England Patriots v Buffalo Bills Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Rex Ryan and the Bills training staff have also been keeping a keen eye. None more than on Saturday night when tackling to the ground was allowed for the first time during the Bills intra-squad scrimmage. About halfway through practice, they got the shot everyone was holding their breath for when Williams collided with James Wilder on a tackle with both players heading full speed.

"When I hit him, I stopped and made sure that I could feel everything and I could turn my neck without feeling any pain," Williams said after the scrimmage. "I realized I was all good. It was a sigh of relief. I'm super blessed that I can keep playing and do what I do. I love being with my teammates, I love being on the field with these guys."

Williams knows this isn’t the end of the road for his recovery or his rehab, and it’s something that will be in his mind for a while.

"Am I going to sit here and say I'm 100 percent, ready to go, I can go all out? No," said Williams. "But this was a major step in the process of being fully recovered. As long as I keep up with my rehab, and strengthen my neck and maintain my body, everything will work out."

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Buffalo Bills Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

"At the end of the day, it’s my neck," Williams reflected early in training camp. "So, of course, I’m going to worry whenever I see an open field and I know I got to make that tackle. But I haven’t had that situation yet for me to worry about it. Right now, I’m just making sure I know all of my assignments, make sure all my guys are in the right spot, and make sure every guy runs to the ball every play. Once again, when that situation happens, if I feel something, we’ll worry about it then.

"But until then, I can’t worry about it."