NFL

Hamlin's 'almost daily' return to Bills facility offers boost ahead of Bengals rematch

By Sports Desk January 18, 2023

Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott revealed Damar Hamlin has returned to visiting the team's facility "almost daily", offering a major boost ahead of their AFC Divisional round game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.

Hamlin was discharged from hospital last week after being in a critical condition having suffered a cardiac arrest in the January 2 game against the Bengals in Cincinnati.

The Bills safety continues to progress on his road to recovery, which McDermott outlined ahead of their rematch against the Bengals for the first time since the incident.

"Damar is in the building now, almost starting daily," McDermott told reporters. "So that's good news. As he continues to improve, that certainly helps.

"That experience, we'll carry that with us. There's a challenge to that, but there's also a lot of good that comes with that. Right now, we need to focus on the positives that came out of that as opposed to the other piece of that."

McDermott said Hamlin's participation was still "limited", not partaking in team meetings or anything physical.

"He comes in and really just started today or yesterday and just trying to get back to a little bit of a routine and just get himself acclimated again and taking it one step, one baby step at a time here," he said.

"Kind of get himself dipping his toe back in here and you know, getting on the road to just getting back to himself."

It remains unclear if Hamlin will attend Sunday's game at Bills Stadium, having watched Sunday's 34-31 victory over the Miami Dolphins remotely.

Bills quarterback Josh Allen added that the players were boosted by Hamlin's return and the emotional trauma of the incident was easing to an extent.

"I think there's honestly not too much left over," he said. "Obviously with guys being able to see Damar, guys being able to see him and talk with him, that alleviates most of that.

"I'm not saying there's going to be none, I can't speak for everyone on the team, but we're extremely focused right now, having a good week of preparation. We'll try to go out there on Sunday and execute."

The Bengals enter the Divisional round game on a nine-game winning streak, seeking back-to-back AFC Championship Game appearances. Since Week 9, Cincinnati have the third best points per game and second best points per game differential in the NFL.

Despite that, the Bills are regarded as favourites for the game, given their emotional lift, home ground advantage and having finished as the AFC second seed, but Bengals head coach Zac Taylor does not view his side as underdogs.

"We know that we're the defending AFC champions," Taylor told reporters. "There's an edge to this team, we're not an underdog. That's been the feeling the whole season. We know we belong in the field with every team."

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