Damar Hamlin Is Expected to Make 2023 Season Debut in First Time Since Cardiac Arrest

The Buffalo Bills safety will reportedly be active on Sunday

<p>Joshua Bessex/AP/Shutterstock</p> Damar Hamlin

Joshua Bessex/AP/Shutterstock

Damar Hamlin

Damar Hamlin has had a long road to recovery but it seems he will finally be returning to the field!

This Sunday, the NFL star, 25, is set to make his 2023 season debut when he and the Buffalo Bills play the Miami Dolphins. NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported the news on Friday via X, formally known as Twitter.

“With the #Bills ruling out S Jordan Poyer, the expectation is that Damar Hamlin makes his season debut vs the #Dolphins, sources say,” he tweeted.

“This spring, Hamlin told reporters, ‘My heart is still in the game. I love the game.’ On Sunday, he’s set to be back doing it,” Rapoport added.

If Hamlin plays, this weekend’s matchup would mark the first time the Bills safety plays in a regular-season game since he collapsed on the field after suffering a cardiac arrest during a Jan. 2 game against the Cincinnati Bengals. The game was paused as Hamlin received CPR from medics who rushed to his aid.

Related: Buffalo Bills Safety Damar Hamlin Had to Be Resuscitated a Second Time, Says Uncle

"They were treating him for such a long time, and a hush spread across the crowd," Bengals fan RJ McNair, who was sitting in the lower bowl of the stadium, told PEOPLE in January. "You could see the looks on everyone's face on the field. That's when I knew this was a very bad thing."

"We're not Bills fans, but everyone was being very respectful. People were either hugging or praying or just watching silently. We may have wanted to win the game, but not like that. It was the scariest thing I've ever seen,” McNair added.

Just weeks later, Hamlin attended the NFL Honors ceremony where he thanked the first responders for their quick action. He said it was "God's plan" for him "to have a purpose greater than any game in this world" by raising awareness for heart health.

Mike Stewart/AP/Shutterstock Damar Hamlin
Mike Stewart/AP/Shutterstock Damar Hamlin

"I have a long journey ahead, a journey full of unknowns and a journey full of milestones," he said. "But it's a lot easier to face your fears when you have a purpose."

In a press conference three months after the medical scare, Bills general manager Brandon Beane announced that the athlete was “fully cleared” to suit up once again.

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"He's fully cleared, he's here and … he's in a great headspace to come back and make his return," Beane said on April 18.

“So much progress..,” Hamlin tweeted on X earlier in the month, seemingly addressing how far he had come since his hospitalization.

Once it was confirmed that the athlete was cleared to return to the turf, he sat down with the American Heart Association for an interview shared exclusively with PEOPLE detailing what his road to recovery was like.

"I'm just trying to focus on the right foot in front of the left," Hamlin told the host, American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown, in May. "I'm learning going with the flow and emotions is just best. Not worrying about trying to control too much of how you're feeling."

"Physically, I'm getting stronger," Hamlin said during the interview, as he smiled and pumped his arms as if he were lifting weights.

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