'Love you boys' – Hamlin addresses Bills stars at team meeting over FaceTime

Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Damar Hamlin can breathe without assistance and is improving "remarkably" after his cardiac arrest, with the Buffalo Bills revealing he has already spoken to his team-mates.

The latest uplifting development arrived on Friday as Hamlin continues his recovery at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center (UCMC), where he was taken on Monday after collapsing mid-game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Hamlin joined the Bills' Friday team meeting on FaceTime and told the group: "Love you boys."

UCMC's Dr Timothy Pritts spoke on Thursday of how Hamlin had "won the game of life" by surviving, after it was revealed the safety wanted to know whether the Bills had won against the Bengals.

As it happens, that game was abandoned and will not resume, with the NFL recognising its outcome would not impact any team's qualification or elimination from the postseason.

Hamlin's future in the NFL is unclear for now, with doctors saying on Thursday it was too soon to talk about the prospect of him playing again, but the 24-year-old is making significant day-by-day progress in hospital.

The Bills said in a statement: "Per the physicians at UCMC, Damar's breathing tube was removed overnight. He continues to progress remarkably in his recovery.

"His neurologic function remains intact and he has been able to talk to his family and care team.

"Damar Hamlin FaceTimed into our team meeting today to talk to players and coaches.

"What he said to the team: 'Love you boys.'"

Reports said Hamlin has also spoken individually to a number of team-mates, yet another encouraging sign.

It had been revealed on Thursday he was able to communicate by writing notes, and to be speaking and breathing without a tube a day later is another major step towards being discharged.

Hamlin collapsed after a collision with wide receiver Tee Higgins and had to be resuscitated on the field.

He received "textbook" medical attention at the stadium, Pritts' colleague Dr William A. Knight said.