At the Buffalo Bills continue to progress through their third week of Organized Team Activities (OTAs), so too does safety Damar Hamlin in his bid to return to the NFL gridiron after suffering a life-changing injury we now know was commotio cordis. Hamlin was recently cleared to resume football activities and his goal is to return to live action with the Buffalo Bills this coming season.
Just over six months removed from that traumatic on-field injury that left him unresponsive and in need of life-saving CPR care from assistant athletic trainer Denny Kellington in front of a national audience under the lights of Monday Night Football, Hamlin strapped on his helmet for the first time.
In Hamlin’s first full practice open to the media, he worked through several reps in both positional and team drills, and there wasn’t much evidence of rust. He looked fast and fluid, well-studied of the different coverages he had to execute and didn’t back down from some plays in tight quarters against an offensive player.
Bills S Damar Hamlin took another big step at today’s Bills OTAs. Helmet on for the first time at an open practice and going through a lot more drills, both positional and team. He did get checked on by athletic trainers after one contested catch rep but returned to practice. pic.twitter.com/Q24oPMETU3— Joe Buscaglia (@JoeBuscaglia) June 6, 2023
Hamlin reportedly did need to be checked over by athletic trainers following a contested catch drill where he dove while attempting to make an interception. But, ultimately, he was able to return towards the end of practice after telling multiple coaches and teammates he was okay.
As Hamlin continues to advance toward his ultimate goal of returning to game action as a member of the Buffalo Bills, the team and he remain in “constant communication about the mental hurdles that come with a return to action following a traumatic event,” writes Buscaglia, while adding that general manager Brandon Beane has acknowledged there are “still other hurdles to clear before a total resumption of Hamlin’s playing career in games.”
While every milestone and step forward comes with a dose of caution about Damar Hamlin needing to clear multiple hurdles before a full return to regular-season action, updates like these continue to provide uplifting motivation for so many who find inspiration in his story.