Bills' safety Damar Hamlin makes season debut in dominant win over Dolphins, plays on kickoff coverage

Damar Hamlin hasn't played since he experienced cardiac arrest during a game last season

Nearly nine months after Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field from cardiac arrest, the Buffalo Bills' safety made his season debut against the Miami Dolphins. Buffalo used him on kickoff coverage during the contest.

The Bills revealed Hamlins' return to the field with the announcement of its active and inactives list Sunday morning.

Before the game kicked off, Hamlin was captured huddling with his teammates, after being a healthy scratch the first three weeks of the season.

Hamlin was used on special teams throughout the contest, which the Bills won 48-20. He did not record any official stats during the game.

The NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport was the first to report the move. Hamlin will be activated in place of safety Jordan Poyer, who was ruled out of the matchup due to a knee injury. Hamlin returns for a huge early-season game as the Bills welcome their undefeated AFC East division foe to Highmark Stadium.

Hamlin has been inactive for the Bills’ first three games of the season, and by taking the field Sunday afternoon, officially completed his remarkable comeback to the field.

Hamlin experienced cardiac arrest on the field after he took a hit to the chest during the Bills’ game against the Cincinnati Bengals last season. He was resuscitated on the field and transported to a local hospital. The game was suspended.

The Bills ruled out safety Jordan Poyer for Sunday's game, which should clear the way for Damar Hamlin to make his season debut.
The Bills ruled out safety Jordan Poyer for Sunday's game, which should clear the way for Damar Hamlin to make his season debut. (Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Hamlin was later transported to a hospital in Buffalo and discharged just nine days later. He attended the Bills’ playoff game against the Bengals later that month. Hamlin was fully cleared by doctors and started training with the team again this summer. He played in all three of the team's preseason games and has been waiting to make his debut since making the 53-man roster.

Hamlin had 91 total tackles last season with the Bills, who selected him in the sixth round of the draft in 2021 out of Pittsburgh. The 25-year-old is in the third year of his four-year, $3.6 million deal.

The Bills are coming off a 37-3 win over the Washington Commanders last week. Poyer went down in that game and missed practice all week due to the knee injury. Safeties Taylor Rapp and Micah Hyde are expected to help fill in for Poyer — who has 14 tackles so far this season — along with Hamlin on Sunday. The Dolphins, who rolled over the Denver Broncos in a historic 70-20 win, have lost 11 of their past 13 games against the Bills.