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Why Bills' Dion Dawkins Has Long Road Back to Helping Team

The high-spirited left tackle was at a low point and unsure he'd survive COVID-19 infection when training camp began.

Sometimes the psychological effects of COVID-19 are every bit as devastating as what it does to the body.

That was the case for Buffalo Bills left tackle Dion Dawkins, normally the life of the party. When training camp started, he was in Buffalo General Hospital, depressed, scared and struggling to breathe.

"Honestly, man it was one of the lowest points I've ever been," Dawkins revealed Tuesday "I never even thought I could even get that low because I'm so animated. And that hit hard. Even with the mental stuff, it hit every part of me, and I was shocked that it could even hit that. Being in the hospital was probably the hardest part because I was like, `man, I'm in the hospital and my team is out there working. And I'm here. I'm not helping if I'm not present.' "

Dawkins spent more than two weeks on the Reserve/COVID-19 list before being cleared to return to practice late last week. But not before he had lost 15 pounds and fell out of football shape. That's the reason coach Sean McDermott said on Sunday that Dawkins faces a "long road" back to actually being able to help the team.

"I didn't know that my mind could get to the low that it could get to," Dawkins said. "And I was extremely emotional, extremely emotional. ... I was down bad where I could barely move and I was just hurting. But you keep pushing. God has a way of doing stuff and making things happen in your life so you can snap back and just like realize that, shoot, life can be over before you know it."

Dawkins actually had received the vaccine being infected, but was in the two-week waiting period after his second dose before being considered fully vaccinated.

Had he not been vaccinated, there's no telling how much more sick he would have become.

People fully vaccinated against the virus rarely experience severe symptoms if they become infected, according to the Center for Disease Control, which as of last week tracked only 7,525 breakthrough cases that required hospitalization or led to death among the 166 million who were vaccinated.

Dawkins was one of those rare cases who is slowly but surely returning to his familiar form.

 "I'm starting to feel more and more like myself every day," he said. "I'm just hitting the field as hard as I can without over-stressing it, and I'm just rocking out." 

Nick Fierro is the publisher of Bills Central. Check out the latest Bills news at www.si.com/nfl/bills and follow Fierro on Twitter at @NickFierro. Email to Nicky300@aol.com.