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Damar Hamlin: Bills safety plays for first time since suffering cardiac arrest in January

Bills safety Damar Hamlin plays in Buffalo's pre-season opener against Indianapolis on Saturday, marking his first time back on the field in a competitive setting since going into cardiac arrest and having to be resuscitated on the field during a game in Cincinnati

Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin warms up during practice at the NFL football team's training camp in Pittsford, N.Y., July 30, 2023. Hamlin is preparing for the next step to resume his career by suiting up in Buffalo's preseason-opening game against the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2023. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus, File)
Image: Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin played for the first time since suffering a cardiac arrest in January

Damar Hamlin played for the first time since suffering a cardiac arrest in January when Buffalo Bills faced the Indianapolis Colts in a pre-season match on Saturday.

Doctors cleared Hamlin to fully participate in practice in July and the Bills said the third-year pro would graduate to game situations in pre-season games.

Head coach Sean McDermott said the Bills were in new territory with Hamlin, who said he's taking his return to the field "one day at a time."

After Buffalo scored a touchdown early in the first quarter against the Colts, Hamlin came on the field to join the kick-off team and later played on defense where he made an immediate impact.

On his second defensive snap, Hamlin was credited with a solo tackle of running back Evan Hull for no gain, denying the Colts from converting a fourth-and-one at the Bill's 40-yard line.

The 25-year-old Hamlin then made tackles on two consecutive plays during the Bills' next defensive series.

Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest during a regular season game at the Cincinnati Bengals when he attempted to tackle Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins on a routine play.

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Higgins' right shoulder hit Hamlin in the chest, before Hamlin wrapped his arms around Higgins' shoulder and helmet to drag him down.

Hamlin quickly got to his feet, appeared to adjust his face mask with his right hand, then fell backward and lay motionless on the field.

He was given medical treatment, including CPR, on the field for nearly 20 minutes before being taken in an ambulance to hospital.

"So we're just trying to do the best we can to be there for him," McDermott said. "I try to keep a close eye on where he is and where he's showing up and how he's responding. And he's done a great job."

In June, Hamlin was a full participant in team drills for the first time during minicamp.

"Man, sometimes it's like normal don't exist," Hamlin said. "But it's a super-blessed space. To be able to do what I love again. That's kind of the normal thing."

Last month, Hamlin put aside his fears and emotions by suiting up and taking a few hits in the Bills' first full-padded practice of training camp. "This is just a another milestone on the journey - might be one of the biggest ones," Hamlin said. "My faith is stronger than any fear."

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