Insider Explains Why Bills Safety Damar Hamlin Won’t Play Week 1

Damar Hamlin

Getty Damar Hamlin looks on during a Buffalo Bills preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts.

Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin spent a long offseason recovering from the cardiac arrest he suffered on the field in a January 2023 game against the Cincinnati Bengals, but may have to wait at least one week longer to make his return to the NFL.

An insider reported that the third-year safety was expected to be inactive for the team’s September 11 season opener against the New York Jets, explaining that the team has a logjam in the secondary with Hamlin expected to be the one left out.

Damar Hamlin Caught in ‘Numbers Crunch’

The NFL Network’s Mike Garofolo took to Twitter on Monday to share that Hamlin would be inactive for the Week 1 game as the Bills fielded a fully healthy active roster and a deep secondary.

“#Bills S Damar Hamlin is expected to be inactive tonight vs. the #Jets in a numbers crunch in the defensive backfield, sources say. Hamlin will be a healthy inactive and could be back on the playing field for Buffalo in the coming weeks,” Garofolo wrote.

Bills safety Micah Hyde, who suffered a season-ending neck injury in Week 2 last season, had been on the injury report earlier in the week with an ailing back but was taken off ahead of the game and expected to play.

The Bills also added depth in the secondary this offseason, signing veteran Taylor Rapp who could play in a hybrid role as an outside linebacker.

The Athletic’s Dianna Russini and Matthew Fairburn, who also reported that Hamlin would be inactive in Week 1, said it would likely come down to a decision between dressing Hamlin or a third running back.

“The Bills were always going to have a tricky numbers game in the secondary on game day when everyone is healthy,” their report noted. “Hamlin performed well throughout camp and the preseason, but Rapp is ahead of him on the depth chart. Hamlin can contribute on special teams, but making him inactive would give the Bills a chance to dress three running backs (James Cook, Damien Harris and Latavius Murray) if they choose.”

Damar Hamlin Speaks Out

Ahead of the season opener, Hamlin said he felt grateful to remain in the league after all he had gone through.

“You can never take it for granted because, you know, the NFL, they say it stands for Not For Long,” he said after the team announced he made the final 53-man roster, via The Associated Press. “So to be able to go through my situation and then be able to come back and still show that I can still do it is super big.”

Bills head coach Sean McDermott also praised Hamlin for all the work he put in to rehab and prepare to return to the field. Hamlin was a full participant in training camp and three preseason games.

“Just incredible, amazing, all the words, adjectives you’d use to describe something as unique as what he’s been through,” McDermott said. “I’m extremely proud of Damar and the work he’s put in. Incredible journey to get back to where he is.”

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