January 5, 2023 The latest updates on NFL star Damar Hamlin's condition

By Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Leinz Vales and Matt Meyer, CNN

Updated 9:26 a.m. ET, January 6, 2023
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8:27 a.m. ET, January 5, 2023

Damar Hamlin is making progress, his father told Buffalo Bills on Wednesday

From CNN’s Coy Wire in Buffalo

Damar Hamlin’s father, Mario Hamlin, did a Zoom call with the Buffalo Bills on Wednesday.

He said that his son is making progress, a source within the Bills organization told CNN Thursday.

Players were emotional and felt encouraged, the source said.

The Bills are expected to practice on Thursday.

8:23 a.m. ET, January 5, 2023

Indianapolis Colts' Rodney Thomas II details visiting Hamlin in the hospital

From CNN's Jacob Lev

Indianapolis Colts safety Rodney Thomas II warms up before a game October 2.
Indianapolis Colts safety Rodney Thomas II warms up before a game October 2. (Jenna Watson/IndyStar/USA Today Network/Reuters)

Indianapolis Colts rookie safety Rodney Thomas II detailed visiting his childhood friend and high school teammate Damar Hamlin in the hospital while speaking to reporters on Wednesday.

Thomas said he had no idea what had happened to Hamlin until his dad Facetimed him. Thomas said he got in his car and drove to the University of Cincinnati medical center to be with Hamlin.

"I had a goal," Thomas said. "I knew where I was going, so I just got on the road and I just went. Laser-focused."

Thomas said he held Hamlin's hand and spoke to him.

"I know he could hear me," Thomas said. "Even if he couldn't hear me, it didn't matter. I said what I had to say."

Thomas met Hamlin at Central Catholic High School in Pittsburgh where the two were teammates and also became close friends, according to the Colts website. Thomas said he and Hamlin talked every day and even spoke before Monday's game.  

"It calmed me way down," Thomas said of being able to see Hamlin in the hospital. "It made the trip home a lot easier. I could go home and know he's gonna be straight, I got him. We all got him. Everybody's behind him. You see what's going on, everybody's behind him. And when he walks out of there and he sees the support he has, it's going to be a real special day."

Rodney Thomas II brings down Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen on December 26 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Rodney Thomas II brings down Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen on December 26 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. (Robert Scheer/USA Today Sports/Reuters)

The Colts are scheduled to play the Houston Texans on Sunday. Thomas said he will have Hamlin on his mind during the game. 

"I'm putting it right where it's gotta be — right in my mind and playing for him, playing for what he represents," Thomas said.

Thomas added that he has "no doubt" Hamlin will walk out of the hospital on his own.

"No doubt in my mind," Thomas said. "He's a fighter. No other thought in my mind of him walking out under his own power."

Thomas was drafted in the seventh round of the 2022 NFL draft by the Colts out of Yale University. 

7:59 a.m. ET, January 5, 2023

NFL is investigating every possible cause of Hamlin's cardiac arrest, chief medical officer says

From CNN's Jen Christensen

The NFL is investigating every possible cause behind the cardiac arrest of Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin, which resulted in his collapse mid-game against the Cincinnati Bengals, according to the NFL’s chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills. 

“I know there's been a lot of theories and a lot of discussion about commotio cordis, and that certainly is possible,” Sills said Wednesday on a press call.

Commotio cordis happens when severe trauma to the chest disrupts the heart’s electrical charge, causing dangerous fibrillations. 

Sills said it is a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning it might be the diagnosis if doctors don’t find any other causes.

“You have to have the right type of blow hitting at the right spot on the chest with the right amount of force at just the right time in that cardiac cycle. So a lot of things have to line up for that to happen,” Sills said.

Doctors will look for any potential congenital or other abnormalities with Hamlin’s heart, he said. Every player gets a physical before each season, and doctors take a detailed medical history, which includes American Heart Association screening guidelines related to potential cardiac issues.

Sills said any time a player is evacuated from the field, the NFL and its medical experts do a detailed review of what happened. They will also look specifically at the role of protective equipment. 

“I think that’s something that certainly we want to look at,” he said. “We do know that padding over the sternum can be protective to blows in situations where commotio cordis is a consideration, so that is something that certainly will be discussed.”

Currently, players’ shoulder pads typically fit in an area that covers the sternum, he said.

Sills said that in some cases, the medical team will not be able to determine what caused the problem.

Regardless of the cause, what helped in this situation was that the NFL had the right people and equipment in place to provide “an extremely rapid response,” he said.”