On Tuesday it also became official that safety Damar Hamlin made the Bills' active roster of 53 players. Hamlin, who is continuing his journey back from suffering cardiac arrest on Jan. 2 during a regular-season game against the Cincinnati Bengals, has been a lock to make the team's roster for multiple weeks based on his performance.
"I don't think so," coach Sean McDermott said when asked earlier this month if Hamlin has anything left to prove in terms of playing football. "It's not like we're playing two-hand touch out there in practice. I say that because there's been enough, or several, thud type of contact points. ... There's just been enough of a sample there where you're saying he's executed well and come out of that healthy. So, from my nonmedical standpoint, I think he's checked all the boxes as far as that goes."
Miller injured his right ACL on Thanksgiving in a game against the Detroit Lions. After initial hope that he would return during the 2022 regular season or postseason, he underwent exploratory surgery on the knee in December, during which the extent of the injury was found.
Miller, 34, signed with the Bills at the start of free agency in 2022, agreeing to a six-year, $120 million contract. He played in every game leading up to the injury and, despite playing in only 11 games, finished the year tied for the team lead in sacks (eight) with Greg Rousseau and led the team with 38 pressures. He also led the team in pass rush win rate (23.6%) and pressure percentage (14.5%).
This offseason, the Bills added a former teammate of Miller's to the pass-rush room with veteran Leonard Floyd. Earlier Tuesday, Buffalo traded 2021 second-round pick Boogie Basham to the New York Giants, moving on from one of the team's young pass-rushers in the rotation. Buffalo will rely on the likes of Floyd, 2021 first-round pick Rousseau and 2020 second-round pick A.J. Epenesa in Miller's absence.
Miller had remained steadfast in his goal to return for the "Monday Night Football" season opener against the Jets on Sept. 11. He has remained with the team throughout training camp, including working out to the side of practice a majority of the days.
In 2013, Miller tore his left ACL, but he returned for the start of the 2014 season with the Denver Broncos.
"We want to make sure he's ready for the long haul. We don't want to rush him too much," general manager Brandon Beane said in July.
Hamlin's return to play has been taken on a day-by-day approach with the Bills wanting to accommodate his timeline and comfort level. The 25-year-old safety is entering his third season in the NFL and has been a full participant with the team since early June during OTAs. He started 13 games last season in place of safety Micah Hyde, who missed the rest of the season after a neck injury in Week 2.
Hamlin has played in all three preseason games, including his first game as a professional in his hometown against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and will contribute as a backup safety and special teams player. While he has expressed that there are a variety of emotions that come with stepping back on the football field, there has been no hesitation in the way he has played.
"I made the choice that I wanted to play, you know, it wasn't nobody else's choices but mine. So, making that choice, I know what comes with it," Hamlin said after the first preseason game, "So, you see my cleats laced up and my helmet and shoulder pads on there ain't going to be no hesitation. Because you can't play this game like that. You'll put yourself at more risk by hesitating. I'm out there. I'm just not thinking twice. I'm just playing my game and kind of how I was taught to play since I was my little brother's age."