FOXBORO, Mass. (WPRI) — Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addressed the media on Thursday as Bills safety Damar Hamlin continues to recover at the hospital.

Belichick said he doesn’t typically watch Monday Night Football, but he did this week since his team is set to close out the season against the Bills on Sunday. It was during the game that Hamlin went into cardiac arrest and collapsed.

Doctors in Cincinnati gave an update on his condition Thursday, saying he’s still critically ill but “beginning to awaken, and it appears his neurological condition and function is in tact.”

“He still has significant progress he needs to make, but this marks a really good turning point,” trauma surgeon Dr. Timothy Pritts said.

Belichick called the news of Hamlin’s progress “encouraging” and said everyone is dealing with the situation as best they can.

“Football is a great and competitive game. Unfortunately, injuries and things like this can and do happen from time to time. It’s very unfortunate,” he said. “Seems like the care that was given was very prompt and good. I’m thankful for that.”

“Life’s bigger than this game,” he added. “This is one of these humbling moments for all of us.”

Belichick said seeing Hamlin go down evoked memories of a moment much earlier in his career: when he was an assistant coach for the Jets, he watched as Lions linebacker Reggie Brown suffered a serious spinal injury during a play. Much like Hamlin, Brown was on the ground unconscious for nearly 20 minutes, received CPR, and was taken away in an ambulance.

“It was a chilling game, one that I’ll obviously never forget,” Belichick said.

Belichick also said he reached out to Bills HC Sean McDermott on behalf of the Patriots.

As for Sunday’s game, it’s still on as of Thursday afternoon. While much of the focus has been on Hamlin, the Patriots are doing what they can to prepare for a critical last game of the season. At 8-8, New England is currently clinging to the seventh seed in the AFC and must win if they want to make the playoffs.

“As I was walking in, I was kind of getting an update, I hear Damar’s doing a little better and is awake and things like that, so that’s awesome to hear,” center James Andrews said. “Still thinking about him and praying for everything to go smooth.”

“It’s been unlike any football week I’ve ever had, that’s for sure,” he added.

“We love being out there. We love being able to play football, and to watch something like that … it was just bone-crushing. It was heart-breaking,” safety Devin McCourty said. “We obviously have been playing for a long time, guys have been hurt, but you just expect to see something of that magnitude. It was obviously just tough to watch and it’s been a tough few days.”

“Everything revolves around [Damar] and his family and making sure that he’s OK. That’s what we’re really worried about,” QB Mac Jones said. “Obviously, the game is the game, but at the end of the day, we’re all here, we have a job to do, but really we’re just concerned about him.”

Kickoff for Sunday’s game is scheduled for 1 p.m. on WPRI 12.


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