Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin is ready for an emotional return to Cincinnati for the first time since he suffered cardiac arrest on the field, but this time he’ll likely be watching from the sidelines.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Bills will not dress Hamlin for their November 5 game against the Bengals, continuing a trend that has stretched through the majority of the season. As Schefter noted, the Bills plan to dress four other safeties and will leave Hamlin as a healthy scratch.
“On an emotional return trip to Cincinnati that will conjure many memories for the Bills, Buffalo safety Damar Hamlin is not expected to be active Sunday night vs. the Bengals, per league sources,” Schefter wrote. “This is not unusual nor unexpected, as Hamlin has played only one game so far this season, vs. Miami, when Buffalo safety Jordan Poyer was injured. With Hamlin, it’s currently a numbers game; he currently backs up Buffalo’s top four safeties – Poyer, Micah Hyde, Taylor Rapp and Cam Lewis.”
Damar Hamlin Moves Into New Role This Year
The last time the Bills traveled to Cincinnati on January 2, Hamlin collapsed on the field after taking a hard hit to the chest while tackling wide receiver Tee Higgins. Medical crews administered an AED and rushed Hamlin to the hospital, where he remained for a long stay before being released and missing the remainder of the season.
Hamlin spent the offseason recovering and going through rehab, and was able to join the team for training camp. Though he earned a spot on the final 53-man roster, Hamlin has seen a very different role this season. He started 13 games in 2022 after Micah Hyde went down with a season-ending neck injury and Jordan Poyer lost time to a series of injuries, and was second on the team in tackles at the time he suffered cardiac arrest.
With Hyde and Poyer both healthy this season and the Bills adding the versatile Rapp in free agency, Hamlin has been a healthy scratch for all but one game, when he played primarily on special teams in a win over the Miami Dolphins on October 1.
Damar Hamlin Ready for Emotional Return to Cincinnati
Hamlin opened up about his return to Cincinnati, telling reporters on Thursday that he is feeling a range of emotions about going back.
“I’m super thrilled. I’m super excited. I’m a thousand emotions. I’m every emotion, all the good ones and the bad ones. But there’s strength in that,” he said, via The Associated Press. “And I think there’s strength in walking through the fire, and walking into your fears.”
The game could have major implications for Buffalo’s playoff hopes. The 5-3 Bills have an opportunity to move into a tie atop the AFC East after the Dolphins lost to the Kansas City Chiefs, and Hamlin said the outcome of the game is all that matters to him.
“My focus is on getting a win,” he said. “That’s going to be my message to all of my teammates.”
The Bills come into the game as underdogs. Heavy projections powered by Quarter4 predict that the Bills have a 45% chance of winning.