Orchard Park, New York (AP) – Hamelin’s devastation reached another major milestone in his return to football by dressing in Buffalo’s preseason opener against the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday.
It didn’t take long for the Bills safety to make an impact in his competitive debut since suffering cardiac arrest and needing resuscitation on the court during a game in Cincinnati on Jan. 2.
On his fourth defensive bunt, Hamlin snagged the line and knocked Evan Hull down on the back for no gain in preventing the Colts from converting a fourth-and-1 at the Buffalo 40. He collected a solo tackle in a game the Bills won 23–19.
On Buffalo’s next defensive streak, Hamlin made two tackles on consecutive plays, with cheers from the crowd every time his name was mentioned.
Hamlin was part of Buffalo’s kickoff coverage unit after James Cook made an 8-yard TD run 3:22 into the game.
Overall, Hamlin appeared in a defensive streak over two tackles in the first and second quarters, and was credited with three tackles. He spent the second half watching from the sideline in his pads while wearing his running shoes.
What seemed incomprehensible in those frightening first moments, and a nine-day stay in two hospitals afterward, has edged closer to reality for the 25-year-old Hamlin, who announced in April that he plans to restart his playing career. after being medically cleared to return.
Since then, the Bills have helped Hamlin return to the field, starting with his participation in individual workouts in May, followed by team workouts a week later. Two weeks ago, the third-year safety took another major step by experiencing its first thud of a blow At first full practice at Bills training camp.
“I choose to play. But I process a thousand emotions. I’m not afraid to say it’s on my mind because I get a little scared here and there,” Hamlin said at the time. “My faith is stronger than any fear. That’s what I want to preach here. And that’s the message I want to spread to the world that as long as your faith is stronger than your fear, you can get through anything.”
Hamlin said it was too early to look forward to pre-season because he wanted to stay for the time being.
Hamlin’s return was briefly put on hold due to a thunderstorm that swept through the area about 75 minutes before kickoff. The players returned to the field for a pre-match warm-up after about half an hour’s delay.
Fully dressed in uniform and pads, Hamlin wore his helmet when entering the field with his fellow defensive backs.
Earlier , The NFL released a short video of Hamlin’s arrival in the stadium on his social media account with the message “Welcome back, @HamlinIsland”.
In the video, Hamlin flashes his familiar heart sign and places three fingers to denote his shirt number as he enters the tunnel.
during the warm-up before the match, Hamlin exchanged an embrace with bills receiver Stefon Diggs.
And Hamlin had rooted support on the other side.
Receiver Isaiah McKenzie, who signed with the Colts this off-season after spending the past four years in Buffalo, has already arranged to swap jerseys with Hamlin after the game.
After two more preseason games, the next hurdle for Hamlin will come on August 29, when the Bills make their final cuts to establish their regular season roster.
Hamlin showed no signs of setback or hesitation during training camp in his quest to re-secure a spot behind returning starters Micah Hyde and Jordan Boyer.
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