DAMAR HAMLIN MAKES AN EARLY IMPACT IN RETURNING TO FIELD IN BILLS’ PRESEASON GAME AGAINST COLTS
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) Damar Hamlin reached another major milestone in his return to football by suiting up for Buffalo’s preseason opener against the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday.
It didn’t take very long for the Bills safety to make an impact in his first appearance in a competitive setting since going into cardiac arrest and needing to be resuscitated on the field during a game at Cincinnati on Jan. 2.
On his fourth defensive snap, Hamlin crashed the line and brought down running back Evan Hull for no gain in preventing the Colts from converting a fourth-and-1 at the Buffalo 40. Hamlin was initially credited with an assist on the tackle, before being awarded a solo tackle in a game the Bills went on to win 23-19.
On Buffalo’s next defensive series, Hamlin made tackles on back-to-back plays, with a cheer going up from the crowd each time his name was mentioned.
Hamlin was part of Buffalo’s kickoff coverage unit following James Cook’s 8-yard TD run 3:22 into the game.
Overall, Hamlin appeared in two-plus defensive series overlapping 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 running shoes.
What seemed unfathomable in those frightening first moments, and the nine-day stay in two hospitals that followed, has approached reality for the 25-year-old Hamlin, who announced in April that he planned to resume his playing career after being medically cleared to return.
Since then, the Bills have eased Hamlin back on the field, starting with him taking part in individual drills in May, followed by team drills a week later. Two weeks ago, the third-year safety took another major step by experiencing his first thud of a hit in the Bills’ first full-padded practice of training camp.
“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,” Hamlin said at the time. “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 that as long as your faith is stronger than your fear, you can get through anything.”
Hamlin said it was too early to look ahead to the preseason because he wanted to stay in the moment.
Hamlin’s return was briefly placed on hold because of a thunderstorm rolling through the region about 75 minutes before kickoff. Players returned to the field to conduct their pregame warmup after about a half-hour delay.
Hamlin was fully dressed in uniform and pads, and had his helmet on when taking the field with his fellow defensive backs.
Earlier, the NFL posted a brief video of Hamlin’s arrival at the stadium on its social media account with the message saying, “Welcome back, HamlinIsland.”
In the video, Hamlin flashes his familiar heart sign and puts out three fingers to signify his jersey number as he entered the tunnel.
During pregame warmups, Hamlin exchanged a hug with Bills receiver Stefon Diggs.
And Hamlin had rooting support on the opposite sideline.
Receiver Isaiah McKenzie, who signed with the Colts this offseason after spending the previous four-plus years in Buffalo, has already arranged to exchange jerseys with Hamlin following the game.
After two more preseason games, Hamlin’s next hurdle will come on Aug. 29, when the Bills make their final cuts to establish their regular-season roster.
Hamlin has displayed no signs of a setback or hesitation during training camp in seeking to re-secure one of the backup spots behind returning starters Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer.
NFL ROUNDUP: DAMAR HAMLIN RETURNS AS BILLS GET PAST COLTS
Safety Damar Hamlin recorded three tackles in his first game since going into cardiac arrest earlier this year, helping the Buffalo Bills to a 23-19 victory over the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday in a preseason game in Orchard Park, N.Y.
Hamlin entered Saturday’s game on the second defensive series for the Bills. It was a moment the Bills and a nationally televised audience thought might never happen as they watched Hamlin go down, and then be revived by medical staff on the field on Jan. 2 in Cincinnati.
One of Hamlin’s highlights on Saturday came at 7:42 in the second quarter when he stopped rookie running back Evan Hull on a fourth-and-1 play at the Buffalo 40 for no gain to force a turnover on downs.
Anthony Richardson, the fourth overall pick of the 2023 NFL Draft, completed 7 of 12 passes for 67 yards with an interception for the Colts. Gardner Minshew connected on all six of his pass attempts for 72 yards.
Matt Barkley tossed a 22-yard touchdown pass to Tyrell Shavers for the Bills (1-0), who played without star quarterback Josh Allen and wide receiver Stefon Diggs.
Jets 27, Panthers 0
New York surrendered just 165 yards of total offense to cruise past host Carolina in Charlotte, N.C.
Jimmy Moreland recorded an interception and New York’s defense sacked Matt Corral four times and Bryce Young once to help the Jets get their first win of the preseason. Carolina made zero trips to the red zone.
New York quarterback Zach Wilson completed 14 of 20 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown, while backup Tim Boyle added 84 yards passing and two scores on 9-of-10 passing. Israel Abanikanda led the Jets’ rushing attack with 56 yards on 12 carries.
Jaguars 28, Cowboys 23
Third-string rookie quarterback Nathan Rourke passed for a touchdown and ran for another in the fourth quarter to rally Jacksonville past host Dallas.
Rourke threw for 153 yards on 9-of-17 passing. Trevor Lawrence started and played three series for the Jaguars, finishing 5-for-6 for 36 yards, with a touchdown and an interception.
Will Grier was 22-of-31 passing for 199 yards and two touchdowns against an interception for the Cowboys. Vaughn led the Cowboys with 50 yards rushing.
Bears 23, Titans 17
DJ Moore and Khalil Herbert each delivered long catch-and-run touchdowns on first-quarter passes from Justin Fields and host Chicago went on to defeat Tennessee.
Fields was 3-of-3 passing for 129 yards in limited action, while running back Roschon Johnson rushed 12 times for 44 yards. The Bears’ defense held the Titans scoreless in the second half, while Cairo Santos kicked three field goals as Chicago overcame a 17-14 halftime deficit.
Malik Willis was 16-of-25 passing for 189 yards and an interception for the Titans. Tennessee had four turnovers, two of them by Willis, who also lost a fumble. Julius Chestnut had 46 yards rushing on seven carries for the Titans.
BROWNS LB JACOB PHILLIPS SUFFERS SEASON-ENDING PECTORAL INJURY FOR SECOND STRAIGHT YEAR
CLEVELAND (AP) For the second straight year, Cleveland Browns linebacker Jacob Phillips has suffered a season-ending pectoral injury.
Coach Kevin Stefanski said Phillips tore the chest muscle during Friday night’s preseason loss to the Washington Commanders. Phillips, a third-round pick in 2020 from LSU, sustained a similar injury during the 2022 regular season against Baltimore.
Stefanski said the latest injury is on the opposite side from last season.
“It’s the worst part of this game, seeing guys get injured and especially you see how hard they work,” Stefanski said. “So it hurts. I hurt for Jacob, and this is why we’re teammates and why we support each other.”
The 24-year-old Phillips went to the locker room in the third quarter Friday night. He will undergo surgery.
Phillips has shown promise when he’s been healthy. However, he’s been limited to just 20 games over the past three seasons due to injuries.
He was listed as a backup on Cleveland’s latest depth chart behind Anthony Walker Jr. and Sione Takiki, who are both coming back from season-ending injuries in 2022.
REPORT: PACKERS TE TYLER DAVIS TEARS ACL
Green Bay Packers tight end Tyler Davis tore an anterior cruciate ligament in Friday night’s preseason opener, NFL Network reported Saturday.
Davis made two receptions for nine yards against the Cincinnati Bengals, the first one for a 5-yard score in the second quarter. The injury reportedly occurred on his second reception, when Davis got up limping.
He was carted to the locker room after trainers looked at the knee.
Davis, 26, was a sixth-round pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2020 NFL Draft. He played eight games for the Jaguars in 2020, then signed with the Packers in 2021.
In 31 games (one start) in Green Bay, he’s caught eight passes for 61 yards. While he has played just 17 percent of the team’s offensive snaps, he’s been a key contributor on special teams, taking part in 81 percent of snaps.
Even without an official diagnosis after the game, Packers coach Matt LaFleur knew the injury was severe.
“Whether it’s on teams or carving out a role on our offense, he’s the consummate professional. Great teammate, great human,” LaFleur said.
“We’re going to miss him.”
Rookie Luke Musgrave is listed as the starter at tight end on the depth chart. Tucker Kraft and Austin Allen now will fight for Davis’ No. 2 tight end spot.