Bills S Damar Hamlin Participates In Team Drills

Bills safety Damar Hamlin participated in team drills today, the first time he’s seen the field during OTAs and five months after his on-field cardiac incident. The team tweeted a photo of Hamlin, noting that the player was a full participant at practice.

Per, Hamlin previously took part in individual drills and stretching exercises. Today, he was seen wearing a helmet and serving as a punt protector during the special teams portion of practice. ESPN’s Alaina Getzenberg tweets that Hamlin briefly left the field to deal with a arm/shoulder injury but soon returned.

“Really proud of him to take that next step,” general manager Brandon Beane told reporters (including Katherine Fitzgerald of The Buffalo News). “Obviously, you guys have seen him out here working out. … Just so proud of him and thrilled for where he’s at in his journey.

“We’re just upping or building his reps up. He’s great. He’s mentally ready to go. He knows the defense. It’s Year 3 into it. The next thing is going to be we’ve got to put pads on, and it’ll be at training camp. But I thought it was really important for him if he could and felt he was ready. You know, this is a two-way communication. This is not us saying, `You’ve got to do this.’ … He’s worked really hard on the mental side of this. Physically, he’s all cleared. But this is a real deal from a mental standpoint after you’ve been to where he was.”

Hamlin has continually stated his desire to continue his NFL career. He was cleared to resume playing back in April, and since then, he’s been spending time at the Bills facility preparing for the upcoming season. As Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic writes, the Bills haven’t given any indication that they plan to use “any reserve listing” for Hamlin, a small hint that the player should be good to go come training camp.

The 25-year-old was thrust into a starting role last year while filling in for Micah Hyde, who missed most of last season with a foot injury. Hamlin ended up finishing the campaign with 91 tackles and 1.5 sacks in 15 games (13 starts), with Pro Football Focus grading him as one of the league’s top pass-rushing safeties. With Hyde back and Jordan Poyer signed to a new deal, the Bills have the luxury of bringing Hamlin along slowly.

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