Damar Hamlin #3 of the Buffalo Bills reacts to a play against the Minnesota Vikings at Highmark Stadium
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These NFL Comeback Player of the Year Favorites Are Ready to Reignite Their Careers

From Damar Hamlin to Calvin Ridley, the favorites for the 2023 NFL Comeback Player of the Year award have some wildly different paths.

Several star players across the NFL are aiming to forge comeback stories this fall and win the NFL Comeback Player of the Year award for the 2023 season.

From frightening incidents on the field to debilitating injuries and returns from suspension or poor play during the 2022 campaign, many players have the potential lay claim to being the 2023 NFL Comeback Player of the Year.

Here's a breakdown of five players with the best chance to take home the award at season's end:

1. Damar Hamlin, Buffalo Bills

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The sentimental favorite for the award — and facing almost unspeakable odds to even step back onto the football field — Damar Hamlin winning Comeback Player of the Year would be an uplifting close to one of the more terrifying chapters of NFL history.

Hamlin didn't just walk out of the hospital after suffering sudden cardiac arrest on the field last season, in front of a national television audience against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 17 — he ran back onto the football field this summer. Not only that, Hamlin has by all accounts been one of the Bills' early standouts of training camp, intercepting several passes.

The stage is set for Hamlin to walk across the stage as a conquering hero at NFL Honors next February. And if his strong summer translates into the regular season, the Bills' defense is going to be that much more formidable in 2023.

2. Breece Hall, New York Jets

New York Jets running back Breece Hall works out during training camp.

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Members of the New York Jets' front office have insanely high expectations for Breece Hall, who — until suffering a torn ACL — seemed to prove the optimism surrounding the rookie running back was plenty justified.

Hall exploded onto the scene, looking every bit the bell cow back the Jets have been longing for. He was averaging a whopping 5.8 yards per carry, while rushing for 463 yards and four touchdowns, through his first seven games prior to his season being cut short in Week 7.

As optimistic and excited as the Jets are about Hall's future, the organization is diligently taking a patient approach to his 2023 comeback and even expressed significant interest in veteran free agent back Dalvin Cook. Still, once Hall does get back on the field, if he's even close to being the player he seemed to be as a rookie, he'll have the chance to be a versatile focal point of a Jets offense that should reach new heights with Aaron Rodgers behind center.

3. Von Miller, Buffalo Bills

Von Miller already has two First-Team All-Pro seasons under his belt and was well on his way to a third when disaster struck, as he suffered a torn ACL on Thanksgiving Day in Detroit against the Lions.

Miller was getting ready to have one of his most dominant seasons, at age 33 — producing 8.0 sacks with 45 total quarterback pressures in his first season in Buffalo — prior to getting injured. It might take some time for Miller to return to form, having produced a whopping 57.3% pass-rush win rate before he was hurt. But anything close would put him back in the conversation among the game's premier pass-rushers.

If Miller bounces back strong — and the Bills' defense picks up where it left off prior to the veteran leaving the field in 2022 — there's a solid chance he adds a Comeback Player of the Year Award to his mantle.

4. John Metchie III, Houston Texans

Houston Texans WR John Metchie III warms up before practice.

Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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John Metchie's return to football is nothing short of heroic.

Selected by the Texans in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft, Metchie announced prior to training camp last summer that he had been diagnosed with leukemia, in addition to having to work his way back from a torn ACL he suffered during his final season with the Crimson Tide.

Houston has high hopes that Metchie can be an instant contributor on offense, especially with the arrival of first-round quarterback C.J. Stroud. If Metchie is as advertised, he's going to get serious consideration for Comeback Player of the Year, given the amount of adversity he has had to overcome just to get onto the field.

5. Calvin Ridley, Jacksonville Jaguars

While Calvin Ridley would be coming back from a suspension rather than an injury or life-threatening illness, his production has the chance to be the most significant of any player making their way back in 2023.

The last time we saw Ridley, he was the Atlanta Falcons' top receiver, catching 31 passes for 281 yards and a pair of touchdowns in 2021. That was before stepping away from football to manage his mental health, and prior to being suspended for the 2022 season for violating the NFL's gambling policy.

Now, Ridley has found a soft landing with the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he'll likely vault to the top of emerging franchise quarterback Trevor Lawrence's target hierarchy, in an offense that finished 12th in the league last season.

Ridley is a burner who has a proven track record of high-end production, with 248 career receptions for 3,342 yards and 28 touchdowns through his first 49 games. Consistently high-level quarterback play, in an offense that's built around the passing game, has the chance to bring out Ridley's best.

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