Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin, who suffered a cardiac arrest during an NFL game, was improving Wednesday but still sedated in critical condition as other players began preparing for weekend contests.
The 24-year-old defensive back collapsed Monday night after receiving a hard hit in the chest while tackling Cincinnati receiver Tee Higgins during the first quarter of the Bills' road game.
Medical workers restored Hamlin's heartbeat on the field and he was taken from the stadium to a hospital by ambulance while the game was halted with the Bills trailing 7-3.
"Damar remains in the ICU in critical condition with signs of improvement noted yesterday and overnight," the Bills said Wednesday in a statement.
"He is expected to remain under intensive care as his health care team continues to monitor and treat him."
Jordon Rooney, a friend and Hamlin marketing representative, gave a medical update on Wednesday.
"Right now things are moving in a positive direction," Rooney told the NFL Network.
Rooney disputed a claim by Hamlin's uncle, Dorrian Glenn, that Hamlin was resuscitated at the hospital as well as on the field.
He also said Hamlin's family was unhappy to see criticism for Higgins over the hit that hospitalized Hamlin.
"This was a regular football play," Rooney said. "The family doesn't want any brushback on Tee at all."
NFL players returned to workouts on Wednesday ahead of the final weekend of regular-season games, where the Bills were set to play host to New England on Sunday.
The Bills conducted team meetings and a walkthrough practice session but were not available to reporters on Wednesday.
Fans gathered outside the Bills' home stadium to conduct a prayer vigil for Hamlin.
The NFL said the Bills-Bengals game, which would have an impact on playoff seedings, will not be completed this week. The NFL did not commit to ever finishing the contest.
With an off week scheduled before the playoff conference finals and next month's Super Bowl, the NFL could push back planned post-season games by one week each to finish the Bills-Bengals game next week.
In the meantime, NFL players still coping with the shock of Hamlin's injury were preparing to return to the gridiron.
That included the Bengals, who will play host to Baltimore on Sunday.
"There are a lot of things we will keep private as we manage things the best we can," Bengals coach Zac Taylor said.
"You do have to move forward as a team because we do have a game to play on Sunday. We have to move focused toward that but at the same time, you don't have to move past the situation that's happening right now.
"We can still provide support for the players that need more of that... you're able to have space to do that and at the same time move forward as a team to focus on Baltimore on Sunday."
- 'Nobody is fine' -
That same difficult balance was being attempted around the league.
"Nobody is fine," Dallas Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy said. "It's definitely a heavy, sensitive day.
"We spent a good amount of time talking about it in our team meeting... we obviously know what's in front of us professionally.
"Our spirituality playbook was open today and we're working through it."
A GoFundMe page for Hamlin's youth charity foundation, which the family said will also be used to support "Damar's battle" had raised more than $6 million.