Detroit Lions back to work with Buffalo Bills S Damar Hamlin on their mind

Detroit Free Press

The first thing the Detroit Lions did when they returned to work Wednesday was pray.

Lions coach Dan Campbell called co-director of player engagement Sean Pugh to the front of the meeting room and had Pugh, an offensive lineman at Western Kentucky who became a pastor in his post-playing career, lead a team prayer for injured Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin.

“I think most guys really already have been saying their own prayers, but I was glad that we started the team meeting like that,” fullback Jason Cabinda said. “He’s been on my mind really since it happened. I mean, everybody’s seen like torn ACLs, torn Achilles, pretty bad injuries, but to see a dude, like, really on the field fighting for his life, that’s pretty scary on, like, a somewhat routine play, too.”

ON THE SIDELINES:Damar Hamlin’s cardiac arrest brought back scary memories for ex-Lions doctors

JEFF SEIDEL:C’mon, Baker Mayfield! Lions fans are cheering for you and the LA Rams

Hamlin remained in critical condition Wednesday, two days after he collapsed on the field and went into cardiac arrest in the first quarter of the Bills’ game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Medics shocked Hamlin’s heart back to life on the field, and the image of tearful teammates surrounding their fallen brother has been seared into the minds of players across the NFL since.

Cabinda, the Lions’ NFL Players Association representative, said Hamlin’s condition was a topic of conversation among players on Tuesday’s off day and remained in the back of everyone’s mind Wednesday as they prepared for this weekend’s pre-playoff game against the Green Bay Packers.

The Lions (8-8) need a win over the Packers and a Seattle Seahawks loss to the Los Angeles Rams to make the playoffs for the first time since 2016. The Packers (8-8) can qualify for the postseason with a win.

“I think when you’re at home or there’s guys who have wives, who have kids, it’s not easy to see that happening and then go look at your wife and kids and say, ‘Yeah, I’m going to go do that tomorrow,’ ” Cabinda said. “That’s definitely not an easy thing, but you can’t afford to think like that. I mean, so many of us have been playing this game all our lives. Hopefully nothing scary like that has happened to any of us. I do think if something like that happened to me, I would probably be done, though. That would be enough. You would think seeing it happen to somebody else would be enough, but you love the game. That’s the reality. Whether that’s right or it’s wrong, whether that makes us sick or crazy for loving it, that’s who we are.”

Lions coach Dan Campbell said starting Wednesday’s team meeting with a prayer “was the right thing do.”

“When you don’t have words, and there’s really nothing you know what to say, how to say it, you got all these waves of emotion, that’s the best thing,” he said. “And so we did that. That’s where we left it.”

Cabinda said he briefed teammates on Hamlin’s status and the steps medical personnel took to save his life Monday, and the NFL offered counseling services to players still reeling from the trauma of the event.

None of the five Lions players the Free Press spoke with about Hamlin on Wednesday expressed trepidation about returning to the field, though all said his health remained their foremost concern.

“It’s tough (to see what happened),” defensive lineman Michael Brockers said. “Nobody is going out there saying, ‘I’m preparing to die,’ but at the same time I think a little bit of it, in our minds, in the back is like, ‘I would give my all for this game.’ And it’s you don’t think about it until that situation happens, but we really go out there kind of mindless (knowing) what can happen.”

The Lions dealt with their own catastrophic injury scare in October, when defensive back Saivion Smith experienced about 20 seconds of temporary paralysis after suffering a neck injury in a game against the New England Patriots.

Smith was taken from the field by ambulance to a local hospital, but he never lost consciousness and had regained movement by the time he was loaded onto a backboard.

Campbell called Hamlin’s injury “a shot of reality,” and as normal as Wednesday’s workday felt to most of the locker room, Brockers said he hopes Hamlin’s injury causes everyone to keep football and life in the proper light.

“To see a guy like that go down and you kind of take all this helmet off, all the pads off, he’s a human being at the end of the day and I think that’s what a lot of people getting to see is we are not superheroes,” Brockers said. “I heard somebody else say that. We’re not superheroes, we’re not untouchable, unbreakable. We can be hurt emotionally and physically, as you’ve seen. So this is just a time to humanize us as players and it just shows we’re more than just fantasy numbers, we’re actually human beings out here that’s putting their bodies on the line.”

Help wanted

Brockers, who played his first nine seasons with the Rams, said he playfully texted some of his old teammates this week to ask for their help beating the Seahawks.

“I definitely hit a couple guys up,” he said. ” ‘Hey, lock in for us this week, man. We need you.’ ”

The Rams are 5-11, but have won two of four games since installing Baker Mayfield at quarterback. The Seahawks beat the Rams, 27-23, in Week 13 in Los Angeles.

“They’re still dealing with some issues on their end, so I know that was a little shot at them, but for the most part, man, those guys know I appreciate everything they did for me,” Brockers said. “Hopefully they can go out there and get a (win) for us.”


Cabinda (knee), center Frank Ragnow (toe) and guard Kayode Awosika (ankle) sat out Wednesday’s practice with injuries, while offensive lineman Evan Brown (ankle) and safety DeShon Elliott (shoulder) were limited. Quarterback Jared Goff wore gloves on both hands during the open portion of pratice and said he’s considering playing with gloves Sunday night at Lambeau Field. Temperatures are expected in the low-30s Sunday, with no snow in the forecast. Goff also wore gloves for the Lions’ Christmas Eve game against the Carolina Panthers, when wind chills were in the single digits. “If I have to wear them on Sunday, I’ll wear them,” he said. “We’ll see what the weather looks like.”

Contact Dave Birkett at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

Articles You May Like

Week 3 injury report: 6 starters miss Wednesday’s practice
Lions safety Tracy Walker ready to ‘fly around’ on near-anniversary of Achilles tear
‘Thursday Night Football’ Week 3 expert picks: Giants at 49ers
Fantasy football: What Lions-Falcons start/sit decisions are you making?
Keys to Victory for the Lions against the Falcons in Week 3

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *