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Raiders discuss Damar Hamlin situation before preparing for Chiefs

The Raiders showed up at the team facility as usual Wednesday to begin strategic preparations for the Chiefs in the season finale Saturday at Allegiant Stadium.

But their minds were nearly 2,000 miles away in Cincinnati.

Like the rest of the NFL world, Raiders players were pondering the status of Bills safety Damar Hamlin, who was fighting for his life in a Cincinnati hospital after collapsing after making a tackle against the Bengals on Monday night. He went into cardiac arrest and was resuscitated on the field.

So instead of starting the meeting with a pep talk or a breakdown of the Chiefs’ third-down defense, coach Josh McDaniels had the organization’s chief medical officer talk to the team about what was known about Hamlin’s injury and answer questions.

“It’s tough; I’m not going to lie,” star receiver Davante Adams said about staying focused on football. “I appreciated the way that Josh started off the (week) just kind of hitting on that real quick.

“I appreciate the way we addressed it a little bit and opened it up just to talk about it. Just to have a couple answers, at least address the elephant in the room, is kind of a big deal right now. It’s kind of insensitive, I think, if we were to just jump in here without talking about it and making sure everybody’s mind is clear.”

While McDaniels and his players understand their job is to beat their rivals, even though their postseason hopes have evaporated, he also knows part of his duties are to manage human beings. He sensed they had emotions that needed to be discussed.

“We did talk about all this, and that’s a good thing,” McDaniels said. “And if we need to talk about it more, we will. Any resource that they need available to them is going to be made available.

“Each person handles it differently, so I’m not going to tell them how to deal with it in terms of their feelings or the way they go about it. Just try to do the right thing by the players and help them as much as we can to get ready to play our final game.”

That’s a more difficult task for some than others. Practice squad receiver DJ Turner has known Hamlin since high school and was a college teammate at Pittsburgh.

Turner said he thinks it will be difficult for some players to find the right mental space to get back on the field so soon after seeing what happened to Hamlin.

“You can kind of see how everyone around the league is kind of feeling,” Turner said. “I can’t even imagine how the guys on the field who had to see it in person are feeling. Just watching any injury live is tough. To see somebody fighting for their life is mind-blowing. It is tough, but it’s our job and you have to do what you have to do.”

What the Raiders can do is upset a team seeking the AFC’s top seed. It’s the time of the season when, even in ideal circumstances, nobody is fully healthy physically and the mental drain of a long season can start to wear on everyone.

Adams, however, wasn’t about to express any negative sentiments about his personal plight.

“(My body has) felt better, but it’s also felt a lot worse,” he said. “Obviously with what some people are going through, Damar and his family and what they’re going through right now, I can’t complain about a nagging ankle.”

Adams, who had 124 yards receiving and two touchdowns in the first meeting against Kansas City, hopes the situation provides some perspective for fans who only see athletes as rich and entitled chess pieces as opposed to actual people playing a dangerous sport.

“I’m very sad that it had to happen like that to be a potential eye-opener for some of the fans and some of the people on the outside,” he said. “But let this be a lesson to them to understand that it’s a pretty violent game and a serious game. We put our lives at risk every time we get out there.”

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.

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