Rams receiver Brandon Powell got to know Damar Hamlin during training camp with the Buffalo Bills in 2021.
Powell did not make the roster, but Hamlin, a rookie safety, left an impression.
“He was always in a good mood,” Powell said Thursday. “On the field he was always working hard, flying around, celebrating.
“Just a guy who makes you want to work. If you’re playing against him, you better bring it.”
Hamlin, 24, this week went into cardiac arrest and was resuscitated on the field during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals on “Monday Night Football.”
Hamlin remains in critical condition in the intensive care unit of a Cincinnati hospital. But a doctor told reporters on Thursday that it appears Hamlin’s neurological function is intact, meaning he can follow commands and move.
“He still has significant progress he needs to make, but this marks a really good turning point in his ongoing care,” the doctor said.
On Wednesday, when NFL teams returned to practice for the first time since last Sunday’s games, Powell was among Rams players who spoke about Hamlin’s situation during a team meeting.
“You know people get injured, but to see that happen on the field…there were a lot of emotions,” Powell said. “That’s something that’s unfortunate that happened, but you got feelings and you want to let everybody know.”
Linebacker Bobby Wagner and cornerback Jalen Ramsey counseled Powell after the meeting. He said he was grateful, “to be able to talk and express my feelings, and with my teammates who I’m with every day to help me out.”
Like other Rams players, the 5-foot-8, 181-pound Powell said he has been inundated with calls from family members concerned about him.
“They’re worried, so like it kind of went across your head like, ‘Man, like is football worth it?’” Powell said. “But at the end of the day you look at it like, man, it’s your job. You’ll never find a job like this. You’re blessed, and God watches over you every time you go out there, you get to take care of your family and get to do what you love every day.
“You push it to the side and hope [Hamlin’s] fine, and let’s find out what happened so we can go out there and play safe.”
Powell said that in the wake of Hamlin’s situation, he learned that he could wear a sternum protector with his shoulder pads, something he will do on Sunday when the Rams play their season finale against the Seattle Seahawks.
“This is football,” he said. “Running into each other, someone can get hurt. You care for your teammates and you care for the other team. … I get the best of you, you get the best of me…. Just hope everyone can be safe.”
Associated Press contributed to this report.