Damar Hamlin had his shoulder pads and helmet on during warms up on Monday at Bills training camp. It marked the first time Hamlin participated in a padded practice since he suffered cardiac arrest during a game in early January.
Hamlin said the practice session was another step in the right direction as he continues his journey to return to football.
“It feels amazing,” Hamlin told reporters. “It’s a roller coaster of emotions. I was kind of all over the place, just kind of being back for the first time. But God don’t make no mistakes. I’m on God’s timing. As much as the NFL is on schedule and camp starts this day, this is all God’s timing.”
But, Hamlin did admit he felt “a little scared.”
“In football, you can’t hit that field with no hesitation,” Hamlin said via Pro Football Talk. “You’re putting yourself in more danger by doing that. I made the choice to play, but I’m processing a thousand emotions. I’m not afraid to say that it crosses my mind of being a little scared here and there.”
The 25-year-old then noted that his faith outweighed any trepidation.
“But like I say, my strength is rooted in my faith, and my faith is stronger than any fear. That’s what I want to preach up here, and that’s the message I want to spread on to the world. As long as your faith is stronger than your fear, you can get through anything. So that’s what I’m living by right now.”
Hamlin had a good day on the practice field. The Bills safety was able to intercept an off target pass from Bills backup quarterback Matt Barkley.
Hamlin then jumped to his feet and ran into the end zone where he was greeted by teammates Tre’Davious White and Dane Jackson.
Hamlin was a full participant since Bills OTAs earlier this offseason.
In April, Hamlin revealed that his doctors concluded that the cardiac arrest he suffered was caused by commotio cordis. According to the American Heart Association, commotio cordis is caused by “an extremely rare consequence of blunt force trauma to the heart that happens at exactly the wrong time in the heart rhythm, causing the heart to stop beating effectively.”
The Bills are keeping Hamlin’s comfort level and his overall health at the top of mind when it comes to the pace of ramping up his football related activities. The team is letting him dictate the pace.
Star wide receiver Stefon Diggs said he is just grateful to see Hamlin be happy.
“It’s easy to come in and say, ‘OK, he’s back on the football field,’ but to see him everyday living, breathing, laughing, and having a good time is really where you have your eye opening, like, God is good. It’s not so much on the football end, I’m more so appreciating the person,” Diggs said.