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2021 NFL Draft: Buffalo Bills S Damar Hamlin injury analysis

Core muscle complications are in his past—will it follow him to the NFL?

Pittsburgh v Florida State Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

Sixth-round pick Damar Hamlin walks into a Buffalo Bills locker room that is long on talent and short on opportunities. Despite unfavorable odds, Hamlin’s path to the roster could be created by his ability to play special teams such as what current Bills safety Jaquan Johnson similarly faced as another sixth-round pick. However, one thing that could keep Hamlin off the field is if he continues to have any further injuries, stunting his growth. Below are Hamlin’s publicly known injuries.


Injury History

High school:

2015 — Senior year: Suffered a core muscle injury during the final season of high school that he played through in order to help his team win a state championship. He later required repair following the season.

College:

2016 — True freshman year: Appeared in three games total but was limited due to complications from the core muscle repair, requiring two revisions total.

2017 — Redshirt freshman year: Missed two games while recovering from the core muscle repair before appearing in nine total games. Missed the game against Virginia Tech with details not available.

2018 — Redshirt sophomore year: Appeared in 14 games, did not appear to suffer any publicly known injuries.

2019 — Redshirt junior year: appeared in 12 games, missing the Georgia Tech game due to injury. Details are not specifically based on available sources, but the injury appeared minor as it was reported that he could have played if called upon.

2020 — Redshirt senior year: appeared in ten games, opting out of season finale against Georgia Tech.


Bills injury impact

Hamlin suffered a fair share of injuries during his time in Pittsburgh. While there isn’t a lot of information on the two games he missed between 2017 and 2019, the only other notable injury that caused him to miss extended time was the core muscle repair.

Despite NFL players returning over 90 percent of the time to play and not affecting performance, Hamlin appeared to be part of the roughly ten percent to experience complications or not return to play. While it is not known what the complications were, it was enough to cost him most of his first season and a portion of his second.

As this was his only significant injury and he returned to play multiple years after that, it suggests that the injury is behind him. Attempting to look up the details for complications appeared to turn up very little. My clinical assumption was that the repair was not initially successful or that it failed in some way when he returned to play. Fortunately, if he were to suffer a new injury to the area or continue to have any new issues, he at least has access to the country’s best-known core muscle repair in Dr. Will Meyers over at the Vincera Institute.

I have no concerns moving forward with Hamlin other than any soft tissue acclimation injuries during training camp. Hamlin has a shot to make the roster, but will not be handed a spot due to the talent and depth already available on the current roster.