PITTSFORD, N.Y. (WIVB) — Bills fans (and players) got an encouraging sight Monday morning at training camp — Damar Hamlin in pads.

Monday marked the first time the safety, who’s entering his third year with the NFL, was spotted in pads since the late-season Cincinnati game this past January where the then-24-year-old collapsed on the field as a result of cardiac arrest.

Hamlin was fully cleared to return to football just months later, following the end of the 2022 season. Monday marked a major hurdle in his return to football.

“Super big hurdle, as you can imagine. I pretty much lost my life playing this sport, so to come back and do it all over again, it’s all over the place,” Hamlin said following Monday’s practice.

Hamlin was intent on returning to the sport all along. Bills general manager Brandon Beane said in April that he was taking part in the team’s offseason workout program, which is voluntary. Back at practice in May, sans helmet, Hamlin took part in individual drills and stretching.

He said that it was good for him mentally to be back with his teammates and on the field, preparing for the season.

“I feel most at peace when I’m here, when I’m in Buffalo, when I’m with my teammates and when I’m back around this game,” he said.

While doing that, he is taking things day-by-day and said that he isn’t trying to look forward too far.

“Any thinking forward, I can’t do that right now. It puts too many emotions, too much processing, too much thinking in my head. I’m day-by-day, I’m second-by-second, each and every day,” he said.

He added that he works closely with the team’s training staff to make sure that he is doing well physically, as well.

“Me and the training staff, we have our personal check-ins always throughout the day,” Hamlin said. “Even outside of body stuff on the field, we have our check-ins in the training room throughout the day, we FaceTime at night, off days we do our own thing. That’s like extended family to me, it’s a personal relationship.”

Hamlin had a combined 91 tackles and 1.5 sacks in the 2022 season.

Buffalo Bills

Evan Anstey is an Associated Press Award, JANY Award and Emmy-nominated digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.

Aidan Joly joined the News 4 staff in 2022. He is a graduate of Canisius College. You can see more of his work here.