Bears TE Zach Miller gets 1-year deal after leg injury
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) All Zach Miller knows is he’s not setting any limits on his recovery – and his doctors aren’t either.
Whether the Chicago Bears‘ tight end can play again after a gruesome injury last season nearly cost him his left leg still is to be determined.
”There has not been a definitive `You can never do this again,”’ Miller said.
”That hasn’t been talked about. It’s approach this as you are planning to get back to where I can be myself and play football, and then when that time comes some of that is out of my hands. So, I’m just going to do as much as I can to get to that point and see what happens.”
The Bears placed Miller on the physically unable to perform list on Tuesday, one day after he signed a one-year contract. The deal was at least a goodwill gesture for a popular player who dislocated his knee trying to make a touchdown catch during the Week 8 game at New Orleans. He has undergone nine surgeries since then, but was walking on his own by late December.
Miller has been spending several hours a day at the team’s facility in rehab and meetings. Though he is not yet allowed to run, he can at least play with his children.
He’s also wearing a brace on his leg to hold up a dropped foot that was brought on by nerve damage. The nerve started functioning again in the past month, and Miller ”wanted to have a party” that day.
”I don’t think I’ve ever been mentally defeated – ever,” he said. ”I feel good. I’m happy with where I’m at and with my recovery. I’m happy with the steps that we’ve made. Positivity has been one of my qualities that’s helped get me through all this stuff. I’m in a good place right now.”
He said being around the team, having ”that brotherhood” and people who ”check in on me” helps.
Miller also praised chairman George McCaskey and an organization that has ”taken care of me since Day 1.”
”It’s tough for me to put it into words what it means to me, but very thankful and just grateful to be a part of this family,” he added.
Defensive end Akiem Hicks was glad to see the organization taking care of his teammate.
”That’s what it said to me, that they’re willing to make sure that we’re all right and give us the opportunity to get better and just loyalty,” he said.
Coach Matt Nagy called it ”without a doubt” the ”right thing to do.”
”I was happy for him,” Nagy said. ”We talked along with (general manager Ryan Pace) and it’s a good story and it needed to be done.”
Miller signed a futures contract with the Bears at the end of the 2013 season. After spending 2014 on injured reserve, he started 28 of 33 games while making 101 receptions for 1,161 yards and 11 touchdowns the past three years. He also spent three seasons with Jacksonville.
A healthy Miller probably would have a big role on a team that invested heavily on the offense in the offseason in order to get the most out of quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.
The Bears hired an offensive-minded coach in Nagy to replace the fired John Fox and overhauled their receiving group, most notably signing Allen Robinson.
They believe bigger things are in store after four straight last-place finishes in the NFC North. And Miller would love to play in Nagy’s offense.
”That’s the bittersweet part of it, seeing first of all how awesome Coach Nagy is, not only as a guy but his football knowledge is unbelievable,” Miller said.
”Very cool, very collected, has a little bit of swagger to him, which is just fun to be around. Then you go to the football field and you look at the scheme that we have. It would be a lot of fun to be a part of. It’s not in the cards quite yet for me to take part in that.
”But as I sit and I watch and I see the weapons that we have and what we’ve added, the dynamic ability that we have as a collective group, positive future here and I’m excited to be a part of it.”
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