Zach Miller has feeling and blood flow in his left leg after undergoing emergency vascular surgery to repair a torn popliteal artery suffered when he dislocated his knee against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, which is encouraging news given the extremely severe nature of the Bears tight end’s injury.
Coach John Fox said Monday afternoon Miller is not “out of the woods yet” but “it’s as good as could be expected at this point.” Fox spoke to Miller on Monday and said he’s in good spirits, and is with his wife and father at University Medical Center New Orleans.
“Typical Zach, he was arguing about catch, no catch,” Fox said. “But very supportive of the team. Very unselfish. That’s just him, and it’s genuine. It’s real, and I just kind of shared that back. He’s got all our love and prayers coming his way. He was basically telling us to hang in there. But that’s him. That’s just the kind of person he is and the kind of teammate he is.”
The gruesome nature of Miller’s injury was horrible to see — Fox said he has not and will not watch the replay — and the ESPN report Monday morning that doctors were fighting to save Miller’s leg from amputation raised concerns well beyond football for the 33-year-old father of three. The surgery performed on Miller was successful to stabilize his leg, but he’ll remain in New Orleans for the time being.
“It’s like when your kid gets hurt,” Fox said. “I mean, you know it happens, you don't want it to happen. you always want what's best for your kids regardless of whether it's physical or just life. Yeah, you build tight relationships with people and of course it affects you. I think it effects everybody in that locker room.”
The Bears will have to move on without Miller this season, with Daniel Brown and Adam Shaheen in line to receive more snaps going forward. But Miller is so much more than an on-field contributor to the Bears — he’s one of the most respected players in the locker room and consistently set the right example for the rest of the team here at Halas Hall.
“We lost a soldier, a leader, and just a good guy,” wide receiver Kendall Wright said Sunday. “He’s a guy you want to be around all the time. He’s one of our leaders and one of our best playmakers. We’ll miss him.”
Bears players were briefed on the severity of Miller’s injury on Monday, and the news wasn't anything they had expected to hear.
"I didn’t really want to believe it," wide receiver Tre McBride said. "I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t realize that that was even a possible consequence of having a dislocated knee. So when I heard that that was the last thing I was expecting to hear. Obviously you wouldn’t want that to happen to anybody, especially somebody who I personally have kind of leaned on since I’ve been here as an older vet and a role model. But I’m glad that he’s doing well and I’m sending him all the positive energy that I can and I hope that he’s back 100 percent soon."
"It’s a huge loss from the field to the locker room," defensive end Jonathan Bullard said. "His personality — a fun guy to be around. It just sucks for the team."