In July, when the Bills had just started up their training camp practices, Dion Dawkins was fighting for his life.
Dawkins tested positive for the coronavirus during the last week of July and spent more than two weeks on the Reserve/Covid-19 list. The Bills left tackle spoke with the media on Tuesday and revealed that he was hospitalized at Buffalo General for four days due to the virus.
"Honestly, man it was one of the lowest points I've ever been," Dawkins said. "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 had gotten the worst of it. He was battling through shortness of breath, fever, chills, cough, and dehydration. There were moments in the hospital where Dawkins didn't know if he was going to play football again or even if he was going to survive.
"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. … Like I was down bad, 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."
It could have been a lot worse for Dawkins if he wasn't vaccinated. He had gotten the two doses of the vaccine and was in the two-week waiting period after his second dose when he tested positive. Dawkins has a six-month-old boy at home, and he was one of the biggest reasons that Dawkins got vaccinated. His son, Dil Ray Dawkins was born premature, and the left tackle didn't want to risk anything when it came to his son's health.
"But when I took that initiative to get vaccinated, I just wanted to do what was right," Dawkins said. "The message that I probably would overall say is, do what you're most comfortable with. But I'm glad I had the vaccine when I had Covid, I just wish that I could have been fully vaccinated."
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Dawkins lost around 15 pounds while he was away from the team in those two weeks because he really didn't have an appetite and wasn't doing as much physical activity as he's used to. On Sunday, when asked about Dawkins' return, Sean McDermott stated that he has a long road ahead after missing the first three weeks of training camp. Dawkins knows the challenges that he faces with the regular season less than a month away, but he is ready for it.
"I mean look, I just got to push, Dawkins said. "I just got to push. The best way to get in football shape is to play football, and I have not been playing football. This is like my second really full padded practice or third, and it takes time."
"McDermott's practices, they are tough, Dawkins added. "So, I think the more of the practices that I go through and push through, I'm gonna be perfectly fine."
His presence and energy level were missed by his teammates and coaches throughout the training camp practices. Dawkins leaned on his family and his teammates during the difficult times, and Josh Allen is glad that he is back at practice healthy and smiling again.
"I know he's getting back into the swing of things and just trying to get his body right," Allen said. "It took a toll on him but he's good now and he's out here. He was very focused today; I saw that out of him. That was a good sign obviously, him coming out here and understanding his job and getting to work. I freaking love that guy so it's awesome to have him back out."
Dawkins is grateful to be able to still play football this season and is confident he will be in football shape before week one. During his press conference, Dawkins thanked the doctors and the strength and training staff for all they did to get him to where he is today.
"I was completely lost," Dawkins stated. "They gave me the knowledge and the stuff that I needed to get through it. I'm in here every day. I'm on my vitamins, I'm conditioning, and I'm working out slowly. The process of what they're doing, it just feels right and every day I've been getting better and better in practice."