Hamlin at stadium, visits with Expenses sooner than sport

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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin visited with his teammates in the locker room ahead of their divisional round matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.

The Bills tweeted video of Hamlin at Highmark Stadium alongside his family, including his mother, Nina, and brother, Damir. Hamlin did not come on to the field before the game and left the locker room to watch the contest from a suite.

Late in the second quarter, he was shown on the stadium videoboard as fans erupted with applause, and he made a heart sign with his hands in response while standing in a suite.

Hamlin’s visit comes almost three weeks after he went into cardiac arrest on the field during the first quarter of the Bills’ Week 17 game against the Bengals. Bills coach Sean McDermott said Wednesday that Hamlin had been at the facility “almost daily,” including Tuesday and Wednesday, but was not participating in team meetings and is taking it “one step, one baby step at a time.”

McDermott said Friday that the team and Hamlin were “just going at Damar’s cadence.”

“It’s what he needs and how we can help him and how our training staff can help serve him and we can serve him, and as anyone would do, we’re just trying to be there for him and walk at his pace, so to speak, play on words,” McDermott said. “But we’re just there for him and want the best for him right now. So it’s been good having him around when he’s been around there.”

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Hamlin, 24, is continuing his recovery from the Jan. 2 cardiac arrest that led to the cancellation of the Bills-Bengals regular-season game. He stayed at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center for almost a week before flying to Buffalo to spend about two days at Buffalo General Medical Center/Gates Vascular Institute. He was discharged Jan. 11.

For a third straight game, the 3s on the 30-yard lines at Highmark Stadium were outlined in blue for Hamlin.

Hamlin was not in attendance for the Bills’ win over the Miami Dolphins in Orchard Park to start the playoffs, but he was watching from home. He first visited the team at the practice facility Jan. 14, attending the team’s walk-through with family members.

“A few hugs here and there; everybody’s chomping at the bit to talk to him and don’t want to overload him with too much right now,” quarterback Josh Allen said Wednesday. “But it’s been good to see him, you know, the smile on his face, and guys love having him back in the building.”