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BUFFALO, N.Y. — Bills safety Damar Hamlin continues to make progress in his recovery as he still is breathing on his own and his “neurological function is excellent,” according to physicians at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center via a statement from the team Saturday.

Hamlin remains in critical condition, the statement said, but he is progressing after having his breathing tube removed overnight Thursday to Friday.

Hamlin, 24, expressed gratitude for the outpouring of support he has received in an Instagram post Saturday evening.

“When you put real love out into the world it comes back to you 3x’s as much,” Hamlin wrote. “The Love has been overwhelming, but I’m thankful for every single person that prayed for me and reached out. We brung the world back together behind this. .. If you know me you know this only gone make me stronger. On a long road keep praying for me!”

He still has a long road to recovery, with doctors from the UC Medical Center saying Thursday that there were many steps ahead for Hamlin, although he accomplished the first by having the breathing tube removed.

“From our standpoint, we would like to see him continue to improve, to be completely breathing on his own,” Dr. Timothy Pritts said Thursday. “And then to be ready to be discharged from the hospital. So those are the immediate next steps as we go for his care. His family has been with him at his bedside, as have members of Buffalo Bills organization, really since this all began, and we really want to get him home to them, so those will be the immediate next steps and then we’ll talk about potential plans for the future.”

Hamlin was able to speak with teammates on a Zoom call Friday during the Bills’ team meeting. He told his teammates, “Love ya boys,” made a heart with his hands, gave them a thumbs-up and even flexed for them. Teammates reacted to seeing Hamlin by standing up, clapping and yelling in excitement.

“We got our boy, man, you know what I’m saying,” left tackle Dion Dawkins said. “It’s all that matters. We got our boy. The excitement was beautiful. It was amazing. It has given us so much energy, so much bright, high spirits, whatever you want to call it. It is giving it to us. To see that boy’s face, to see him smile, see him [flex his muscles] in the camera, it was everything. And then to hear him talk to us. It was literally everything. And that’s what we needed. Literally, that’s all we needed.”

CPR was administered to Hamlin on the field at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati on Monday night for multiple minutes after he suffered a cardiac arrest and collapsed following his tackle of Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins.

Dr. William Knight IV, also of the UC Medical Center, credited the quick medical response with saving Hamlin’s life. He said a physician was by Hamlin’s side within a minute of him collapsing and recognized that the defensive back did not have a pulse.

There is no definitive answer to what caused Hamlin’s cardiac arrest.

The Bills and the NFL will honor Hamlin in a variety of ways this weekend, with every team allowed to outline the “3” in each 30-yard line 3 in a Bills color. Bills players will have a “3” patch on their jerseys when they face the New England Patriots at home Sunday (1 p.m. ET, CBS).

“It’s going to be a celebration of life and an ongoing life,” Bills general manager Brandon Beane said Friday. “Just a celebration that this is not only going to be a celebration in Buffalo but the whole country and I’m sure people internationally that have watched this situation. I’m sure it’s going to be a great seat if you’ve got a ticket to come here and just to be a part of this atmosphere. The hair on the back of my neck is standing up right now thinking about it.”

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is expected to attend Sunday’s game in Orchard Park, a source told ESPN’s Dianna Russini.

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