Damar Hamlin

Bills To Open Von Miller’s Practice Window

OCTOBER 5: After experiencing no speedbumps during the Bills’ wing of practices in Buffalo ahead of their London game, the future Hall of Famer is making the trip to England, per NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport. The Bills have nearly three weeks to activate Miller from the PUP list, but making the trip ahead of the Jaguars matchup represents a good sign of a Week 5 return.

OCTOBER 1: Bills defensive end Von Miller opened the season on the PUP list as he continues to recover from the ACL tear that ended his 2022 campaign prematurely. That meant that Miller would miss at least the first four games of the season but would be eligible to return for Buffalo’s Week 5 contest against the Jaguars next Sunday.

Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Bills are opening Miller’s practice window, and the future Hall of Famer will resume practicing this week. Once that happens, the club will have three weeks to add him to the 53-man roster, and if they do not do so, he will be ineligible to return this season.

Obviously, the Bills would not open the practice window if they did not believe Miller was close to game-ready (indeed, at the beginning of August, GM Brandon Beane expressed optimism that Miller would suit up for Week 1). However, that does not necessarily mean that Miller will be in the lineup in Week 5. As Schefter notes, Buffalo will continue to be cautious with Miller, and there is not yet a definitive return date.

Now 34, Miller signed a six-year, $120MM contract with the Bills in March 2022. In his first season in western New York, which lasted just 11 games, the eight-time Pro Bowler posted eight sacks and was viewed as one of the league’s best all-around defenders in the eyes of Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics. This offseason, Buffalo signed Leonard Floyd as something of a contingency plan, and Floyd has acquitted himself nicely, posting 3.5 sacks through the first three games of 2023.

Greg Rousseau and A.J. Epenesa have also had some success this season, but the return of Miller will nonetheless be a welcome development for a team that has designs on a deep postseason run. The team currently ranks second in the league in terms of total defense, points allowed, and sacks, and Miller’s presence will make an already-imposing unit even more formidable.

In other news, safety Damar Hamlin is making his 2023 debut against the Dolphins today. While Hamlin participated in all three of the Bills’ preseason games, this will mark the third-year pro’s first regular season action since he collaped on the field due to commotio cordis in a Bills-Bengals game in January. Hamlin’s inspiring recovery has now come full circle, and he has taken the place of the injured Jordan Poyer on the active roster.

Damar Hamlin Full Go For Training Camp

Damar Hamlin is close to completing his long-anticipated recovery from the chest injury that induced cardiac arrest. Nearly seven months after that scary scene, the Bills announced the inspirational safety will be 100% as the team starts training camp.

This has been the expectation for a while now. Hamlin did not begin OTAs on time but participated in Buffalo’s minicamp. Sean McDermott said the team will “go at his cadence” regarding the final steps on this journey back to full health. Hamlin began camp work with his teammates Wednesday.

Hamlin, 25, initially received full clearance back in April, making a major stride in his recovery from a hospitalization and breathing through a ventilator in Cincinnati to being back with his teammates in uniform. The collision with Tee Higgins induced commotio cordis, an extremely rare condition that emerges after chest trauma produces waves of electricity that can alter heart rhythm. He has made remarkable strides in the months since.

Training camp will mark another key hurdle for the third-year safety, with the Bills not ticketed to don shoulder pads until August. How Hamlin fares in contact work will be a storyline to follow during Bills camp, but considering how the Pittsburgh alum has responded thus far on his comeback trail, the expectation will be a spot on the team’s 53-man roster and a role in Week 1.

The Bills needed Hamlin to replace Micah Hyde for much of last season, but with Hyde back and Jordan Poyer re-signing in March, Hamlin returning to a backup role appears likely. The Bills also re-signed Dean Marlowe and added ex-Rams starter Taylor Rapp, giving the team one of the better safety depth charts any NFL team has featured in recent memory.

Hamlin practicing in training camp will prevent the Bills from stashing him on the reserve/PUP list to start the season. Two years remain on Hamlin’s rookie contract.

Additionally, the injury Nyheim Hines suffered this week is an ACL tear, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. The Bills placed Hines on their non-football injury list Tuesday. The 2022 trade acquisition was sitting stationary on a jet ski when another rider crashed into him. The NFI placement puts Hines’ $4.1MM base salary up in the air, since the Bills are not obligated to pay the veteran back due to the injury being sustained away from team grounds. Hines’ agent sent out a message calling for the Bills to pay his client (Twitter link).

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 NFL.com, 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.

AFC East Notes: Pats, Dolphins, Hamlin, Bills

The Patriots will join the list of teams to lose OTA days due to minor violations. The NFL docked the Pats two OTA sessions, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com tweets. New England did not practice Wednesday and will see another of its sessions nixed next week. The violation is believed to stem from the NFLPA expressing concern about the Pats’ meeting schedule. A 15-minute special teams meeting appearing on the team’s internal schedule was deemed mandatory in nature, and not voluntary, by the union, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes. Bill Belichick incurred a $50K fine, Greg Bedard of the Boston Sports Journal tweets, noting Joe Judge was involved in the violation as well (Twitter links). Pats players were aware they were being asked to stay longer than allowed, per veteran reporter Mike Giardi (on Twitter), with Reiss adding the team was fully cooperative with the NFL inquiry.

While on-field contact has triggered these penalties at various points in the recent past, the Pats’ violation is believed to pertain to only the meeting issue. This punishment certainly can be interpreted as steep for the reported infraction, though the NFLPA made reduced offseason work a key component during the 2011 and 2020 CBA talks.

Here is the latest from the AFC East:

  • Austin Jackson is back at work for the Dolphins, per the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson, participating in OTA sessions after undergoing reconstructive ankle surgery (Twitter link). Jackson did not undergo surgery upon initially injury his ankle — in Week 1 — as Miami’s starting right tackle attempted to return in Week 12. Jackson played 70 offensive snaps in that December game but did not suit up again last season. The Dolphins said before the draft they are planning to give Jackson another shot as their top right tackle, though they subsequently passed on his fifth-year option.
  • Miami did not draft a tackle, but the team did add ex-New England starter Isaiah Wynn. The former first-rounder is working at multiple positions during OTAs, Mike McDaniel said (via Jackson). League rules prohibit media from reporting which positions Wynn is playing, but the former Patriots left tackle did play guard for three seasons at Georgia. Wynn has spent most of his NFL time at left tackle and struggled on the right side following a 2022 position switch. The Dolphins have Terron Armstead locked in at left tackle, but the ex-Saints blocker has run into numerous injury issues during his career. He missed four games last season. Wynn’s Dolphins path could feature a starting right tackle role, a spot as the team’s swingman or potentially a guard gig. Left guard Liam Eichenberg has not solidified his position like right guard Robert Hunt has.
  • Damar Hamlin has made remarkable strides in his recovery and is fully expected to resume his career this season. But the Bills are playing it cautiously. Hamlin received full clearance to return and has worked out with teammates this offseason, but The Athletic’s Joe Buscaglia notes the third-year safety is not yet participating in OTAs (Twitter link). Hamlin’s progress continues to be a situation to monitor in Buffalo, considering the historically rare circumstances he encountered after making a routine tackle in January.
  • A year after re-signing Matt Milano, the Bills let Tremaine Edmunds walk in free agency. The five-year starting linebacker signed a monster Bears contract and left a hole in the Bills’ lineup. Buffalo is likely to look in-house to replace Edmunds, with WGRZ’s Vic Carucci indicating Tyrel Dodson and 2022 third-round pick Terrel Bernard will compete for the middle ‘backer job. A former UDFA, Dodson made three starts last year. He played 220 defensive snaps. Starting one game as a rookie, Bernard played 110. The Bills also brought back veteran A.J. Klein, who has 82 starts on his resume (16 with Buffalo), in April.

Bills’ Damar Hamlin Receives Full Clearance

Damar Hamlin can now begin his comeback journey in earnest. The Bills safety, whose on-field cardiac arrest brought the NFL to a standstill in January, received full clearance to return to football activities, GM Brandon Beane said Tuesday.

The third-year defender had said he planned to resume his career; he reaffirmed that today. Hamlin said (via the Buffalo News’ Jay Skurski) he has wanted to return to action since the Saturday following his horrifying injury. Considering the position he was in on that Monday night in Cincinnati, a return would double as one of the most inspirational stories in NFL history.

Beane said doctors are in agreement Hamlin can resume his career. Despite being barely three months removed from a hospitalization that brought a historic cancellation of a regular-season game, Hamlin is participating in the Bills’ offseason program. The team began its offseason work this week.

When he left Cincinnati, he came here, it was Buffalo General [Hospital],” Beane said, via ESPN.com’s Alaina Getzenberg. “He saw a couple of specialists here in Buffalo, and then since then, he’s seen three additional specialists, most recently on Friday, and they’re all in agreement. It’s not 2-1 or 3-1 or anything like that. They’re all in lockstep of what this was and that he’s cleared, resumed full activities just like anyone else who was coming back from an injury or whatever.”

Hamlin said his collision with Bengals wideout Tee Higgins induced commotio cordis, which is an extremely rare condition that emerges after chest trauma produces waves of electricity that can alter heart rhythm. Hamlin, who said (via NFL.com’s Cameron Wolfe) he “died on national TV in front of the whole world,” needed to be resuscitated on the field at Paycor Stadium. After being transported to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Hamlin was on a ventilator for days. But the Pittsburgh-area native has made steady improvement since being released from the hospital January 11.

This offseason will represent a good opportunity for Hamlin to build up his fitness ahead of training camp. Teams cannot don shoulder pads until days into their respective training camps, so nearly four months remain until Hamlin will begin any contact work. After working exclusively as a backup during his 2021 rookie season, the former sixth-round pick made 13 starts in 2022.

The Bills deployed Hamlin as a starter after Micah Hyde suffered what became a season-ending injury in September. The team also re-signed Jordan Poyer in March, opening the door to the prospect of he, Hyde and Hamlin playing together again in 2023. With Poyer back for a seventh season in Buffalo, it is likely Hamlin will return as a backup. But given the circumstances, the third-year defender suiting up again will be one of the most-monitored stories during the leadup to the 2023 season.

My heart is still in the game; I love the game,” Hamlin said, via the Associated Press’ John Wawrow. “It’s something I want to prove to myself, not nobody else. I just want to show people that fear is a choice, that, you know, you can keep going in something without having the answers. You might feel anxious, you might feel any type of way, but you just keep putting that right foot in front of the left one and you keep going.”

Latest On Bills S Damar Hamlin

It’s been a long road for Bills safety Damar Hamlin as he’s continued to recover from his on-field cardiac incident in early January. A long road remains in front of him, as well, but early indications were that Hamlin had a desire to return to the field and play professional football again. According to Alaina Getzenberg of ESPN, Hamlin’s intentions remain focused on playing in the NFL again as things continue to trend “in the right direction.”

The early indications came directly from Hamlin but came with several future medical evaluations to undergo and several expert opinions to be sought. The recent updated information comes from general manager Brandon Beane, who has been very involved in Hamlin’s recovery process, so far.

Beane visited the second-year safety this week, and Hamlin once again confirmed his intentions. Beane explained that there is at least one more doctor visit lined up for Hamlin but that things are “trending in the right direction.”

“We’ll get him through all (his medical consultations),” Beane said of the plans moving forward for Hamlin, “and then we’ll make sure all of our medical people are hearing all those opinions on each visit and make sure that we’re all on the same page of what it would like.”

As far as a timeline for a decision, Beane believes that Hamlin’s medical evaluations and consultations should be wrapping up in April, allowing the team and Hamlin to make a fully informed decision. He said that the date can always change if a doctor in April says they would like to see Hamlin back in their office in May, but so far, everything has checked out up to this point.

The Bills have no need to rush Hamlin back onto the field. The team returns starting safeties Jordan Poyer, who recently re-signed to a new deal to remain in Buffalo, and Micah Hyde, who missed most of last season with a foot injury. Hyde’s injury was what pushed Hamlin into a starting role last season, and with Hyde returning to the field, Hamlin will be allowed to work his way back to the field without the pressures of needing to perform as one of the team’s top two safeties.

However long it takes for Hamlin to return to 100-percent, a return to the field would be nothing short of a miraculous outcome after what we witnessed on that field in January. We at PFR truly wish Hamlin the best in his rehabilitation and health as things continue to trend is a positive direction for the 24-year-old.

Bills S Damar Hamlin Intends To Resume Playing Career

A key moment of both the NFL Honors presentation and the lead-in to Super Bowl LVII were tributes to Bills safety Damar Hamlin and the medical personnel responsible for performing CPR on him following his on-field cardiac arrest. With a significant portion of his recovery behind him, the question of whether he intends to return to the field has been raised.

The 24-yar-old spent time at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center on a ventilator before ultimately being able to breathe and speak on his own. That led to his discharge and return to Buffalo, where he was able to watch the team’s playoff contests in person. He is currently on IR, but a decision in terms of activation in time for the 2023 season obviously does not need to made any time soon.

Hamlin is set to receive multiple expert opinions with respect to his cardiac health before arriving at a final decision, as noted by Mark Maske of the Washington Post. The league’s chief medical officer, Dr. Allen Sills, indicated over the weekend that no special NFL or NFLPA clearance will be required for the former sixth-rounder should he and his advisors decide he is able to play again.

“It’s his decision,” Sills added, in reference to Hamlin. “And he is the person that will need to drive that decision, and then we’ll all line up and support that… I think right now the focus is on his recovery and his continued improvement. And then there will be another day and time to discuss all that. But it will be strictly led by him and those that are close to him. And the Buffalo medical staff, I know, has, as I said, already engaged and will engage a lot of experts to help provide input and opinions into that process.”

Hamlin provided further clarity on his plans shortly after those remarks. In an interview with Fox Sports, he said that the plan is currently for him to resume playing at some point (Twitter link via ESPN’s Alaina Getzenberg). Of course, no firm timeline is in place to determine if that goal is attainable.

“Eventually,” the Pitt alum elaborated, on the subject of his return-to-play potential. “That’s always the goal. Like I said, as a competitor, I’m trying to do things just to keeping advancing my situation. But I’m allowing that to be in God’s hands. I’m just thankful he gave me a second chance.”

Hamlin is under contract for two more years, and showed his potential for much of the 2022 campaign while playing a starting role in place of Micah Hyde. The Bills would therefore happily welcome him back, something which remains his target as the offseason unfolds.

Latest On Bills S Damar Hamlin

JANUARY 11: Hamlin is heading home. He is being discharged from the Buffalo hospital, the Bills announced (on Twitter). After a series of tests Tuesday, Bills medical personnel and the staff at the Buffalo hospital determined Hamlin has progressed to the point he can continue his rehab at home and at the team facility.

JANUARY 9: Damar Hamlin left the University of Cincinnati Medical Center on Monday, announcing (via Twitter) a return to Buffalo a week after his frightening injury brought the NFL world to a halt. Hamlin will now receive treatment at Buffalo General Medical Center/Gates Vascular Institute.

The Bills safety continues to make significant strides. Hamlin, who needed to be resuscitated last week at Paycor Stadium after suffering cardiac arrest during the since-cancelled Bills-Bengals game, has resumed walking and is undergoing physical therapy, his Cincinnati doctors announced (via ESPN.com’s Alaina Getzenberg). Sean McDermott and GM Brandon Beane visited the second-year player Monday in Buffalo.

Grateful for the awesome care I received at UCMC,” Hamlin said (via Twitter). “Happy to be back in Buffalo. The docs and nurses at Buffalo General have already made me feel at home!

The Bills placed Hamlin on IR late last week. Although Hamlin’s progress has been a tremendous development, doctors said last week it is too soon to know if he will be able to play football again. As Hamlin recovers, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes the Bills reached an agreement with the NFL and NFLPA to pay his full salary while he is on IR (Twitter link).

Hamlin, 24, has earned most of his $825K base salary this season. An standard IR split would have resulted in nearly $21K less last week, Rapoport tweets. This arrangement carrying over to 2023 would result in Hamlin earning his full $940K base if he is placed on an injured list to start next season, but it is obviously too early to determine if that will be necessary. Hamlin’s four-year, $3.64MM rookie contract runs through 2024.

Damar Hamlin Roundup: Bills-Bengals Resumption, AFC Alterations, More

With Bills safety Damar Hamlin continuing to make progress in his recovery, and the NFL having moved forward with their re-worked playoff scenarios for the AFC, attention will now increasingly turn to the upcoming postseason. Here is a quick roundup, though, of some notes pertaining to the game in which he suffered cardiac arrest, and the process by which the new seeding parameters were arrived at:

  • Much has been made about the league’s intention of resuming the Buffalo-Cincinnati contest after Hamlin was taken off the field via ambulance. The ESPN broadcast of the game mentioned a five-minute warm-up period being relayed to both teams – something which NFL EVP Troy Vincent has, on multiple occasions, emphatically denied. Detailing the moments after Hamlin was resuscitated on the field, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports that an official told the Bengals a 10-minute warm-up period would take place before resuming the game. Further conversations ensured, however, which included Bills head coach Sean McDermott stating that he was willing to forfeit the game if it ensured it was not played on Monday night. The Bengals, Florio adds, were accommodating of the Bills’ wishes, though they were under the impression the contest would be finished on Tuesday until realizing the Bills had retuned to Buffalo before the league’s ultimate cancellation decision.
  • That move led to the modified AFC structure for playoff seeding, affecting the Bills’ and Bengals’ abilities to clinch the top spot in the conference. When speaking about the owners resolution passed on Friday, commissioner Roger Goodell described it as “a focused approach that would only affect four teams” (Twitter link via NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero). One of main consequences of the realignment was the ability the Chiefs had to clinch the No. 1 seed with a win on Saturday (which they did) and the decision to move any potential Chiefs-Bills AFC title game to a neutral site – a scenario which is in play given Buffalo’s win today.
  • Another, of course, was the amendment stating that home field for a Bengals-Ravens Wild Card matchup would have been decided by a coin flip had the Ravens won today (which they did not). Pelissero’s colleague Mike Garafolo tweets that proposals were in place to split the aforementioned amendments being voted on, but they did not pass. A coin flip being used to determine the top seed was not discussed, he adds (Twitter link). Throughout the process, the Chiefs abstained from voting given the direct effects the rule changes had on their path to the top spot in the AFC, per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler (on Twitter).
  • The NFL also considered the possibility of the Ravens and Bengals playing their Wild Card matchup (which was a distinct possibility at the time, and has since been confirmed through today’s results) at a neutral site (Twitter link via Pelissero). Challenges with ticket sales and other logistics prevented that idea from gaining traction, however. Cincinnati and Baltimore will play each other for the third time this year – and second in as many weeks – during the first round of the postseason, with the Bengals playing host due to their superior record.
  • Competition committee chair Rich McKay said, when asked about the league’s decision not to simply base playoff implications on win percentage, “We don’t capture everything in every rule. When you face situations, you have to try to make adjustments. [This situation was] not that different from some of the COVID-related issues” (Twitter link via Pelissero and Garafolo’s colleague Ian Rapoport). No games were cancelled due to the pandemic, but the NFL has likewise arrived at a response to the unique situation presented by last Monday’s contest not being completed. Now, all affected teams will move forward with their eyes on a playoff run.

Bills Place S Damar Hamlin On IR, Activate CB Christian Benford

In what amounts to a procedural move, the Bills placed Damar Hamlin on IR on Friday. Hamlin has made tremendous progress in his recovery after a frightening scene Monday in Cincinnati, but doctors do not know yet if the young safety resuming his career is realistic at this point.

To replace Hamlin on their 53-man roster, the Bills activated cornerback Christian Benford from IR. A sixth-round rookie, Benford had carved out a role for himself prior to going on IR. He will be a welcome reinforcement for a Bills team that will resume its Super Bowl quest Sunday.

The Bills chose Benford 185th overall out of Division I-FCS Villanova. His lower-profile path notwithstanding, Benford played ahead of first-round pick Kaiir Elam as a starter early in the season. During the nine games in which the 6-foot-1 defender has played this season, he has started five and seen a 62% snap share on defense.

Benford and Tre’Davious White played in just one game together — the Bills’ Thanksgiving tilt in Detroit — but the former’s oblique injury sidelined him for the team’s next five games and the since-cancelled Monday-night outing. The Bills have White, Elam, Dane Jackson and slot Taron Johnson in place as their top corners. It will be interesting how the AFC East champions reintegrate Benford, who will presumably slide into a depth role.

Hamlin suffering cardiac arrest at Paycor Stadium led to a heroic effort by the medical staffers — both at the stadium and the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. After being given CPR and resuscitated at the stadium, Hamlin was breathing on a ventilator for two days. The 24-year-old defender progressed to a breathing tube, which he now no longer needs. Hamlin worked his way back to addressing his teammates via Facetime.

Football-wise, the Bills do need to replace the second-year talent. The Pittsburgh product started 14 games for the team since Micah Hyde went down with a season-ending injury in September. Hamlin’s 91 tackles are tied for second on the Bills. The team has Pro Bowler Jordan Poyer anchoring its back line, and it reacquired Dean Marlowe at the trade deadline. Fourth-year defender Jaquan Johnson has played 225 defensive snaps — third-most among the team’s safeties this season. Hamlin’s 845 lead the position group.