January 15, 2017

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) Despite concerns raised after sustaining season-ending neck injuries in consecutive years, Bills starting safety Aaron Williams is preparing to resume his playing career, the player's father told The Associated Press on Sunday.

''He's leaning toward coming back,'' Anthony Williams said by phone. ''We'll take it slow and go from there.''

Williams said his son intends to make a formal announcement in the near future.

He was more definitive in a note posted on his Twitter account earlier in the day. In referring to Buffalo's hiring of new head coach Sean McDermott, Anthony Williams wrote: ''Excited about the new HC (head coach) and Aaron coming back to be part of the team that finally brings playoffs and a SB (Super Bowl) to the deserving BLO fans.''

Aaron Williams' future has been in question since he was sidelined by a blindside hit to the head by Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry in Buffalo's 28-25 loss at Miami on Oct. 23.

Williams was briefly hospitalized and placed on the season-ending injured reserve list two weeks later.

A few days following the game, Anthony Williams told The AP he intended to have his son consult with his family and wait until January to determine whether to retire.

The sixth-year player's 2015 season was cut short after being hurt attempting to make a diving headfirst tackle. Williams missed the final 11 games of that season and had neck surgery during which doctors shaved two disks to alleviate nerve damage.

Aaron Williams was non-committal regarding his future two weeks ago, when appearing in the Bills locker room a day after a season-ending 30-10 loss at the New York Jets.

''It's back and forth with `Yeah, I'm going to play this year to, man, I feel good not playing,''' he said. ''It's one of those things where I don't want to make an irrational decision just by coming back today and seeing all the guys and being happy to be here.''

He also said family members have advised him to retire.

Williams said he has no lingering symptoms from Landry's hit. Williams added doctors informed him he faces the same risks in returning to play as he did a year earlier.

''If I say, `Yeah, I'm going to play next year and I get the same hit, am I going to be talking to you guys again?'' Will I be walking?'' Williams said.

''It's those thoughts that are always running through my head,'' he said. ''I don't sleep. My mind runs 1,000 miles an hour thinking about what I'm going to do.''

Williams is a hard-hitting player who excelled in both pass- and run-stopping situations, and regarded as one of the team's defensive leaders.

Williams has been a starter since being drafted by Buffalo in the second round in 2011 out of Texas. He began as a cornerback before switching to safety in 2013.

The Bills are once again in transition this offseason with McDermott taking over as coach after Rex Ryan was fired in the final week of December. McDermott spent the past six seasons working as the Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator.

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AP freelancer Mark Ludwiczak contributed to this report.

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