Zach Miller's horrific injury difficult to take in more ways than one for Bears


Zach Miller's horrific injury difficult to take in more ways than one for Bears

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."

SportsTalk Live Podcast: How much pressure is on Roquan Smith now that he is finally in the fold?


SportsTalk Live Podcast: How much pressure is on Roquan Smith now that he is finally in the fold?

On this episode of the SportsTalk Live Podcast David Haugh, Mark Gonzales and Leon Rogers join David Kaplan on the panel.

Roquan Smith’s holdout is over. How much pressure is on him now that the first round pick is finally in the fold?

Plus, the panel discusses how Joe Maddon can use grand slam hero David Bote down the stretch and if Tiger Woods is a lock to win a major in 2019.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

With Roquan Smith arriving, Bears gain major element of their present and future


With Roquan Smith arriving, Bears gain major element of their present and future

You knew it was going to get done. They always do. And Roquan Smith was going to be in a Bears uniform later rather than sooner because of contract issues. And now he reportedly is.

Smith now resumes the process of NFL orientation and acclimation that began with his rookie minicamp and continued through OTA’s and other workouts. Those are a long way from game speed, but the Georgia rookie linebacker is considered a long way from typical, so best guess is that he will arrive in Denver with his teammates at least in pretty good conditioning shape and actually a little healthier than quite of few of them, owing to having the good fortune of not playing two preseason games.

Now what?

Whether Smith plays Saturday in Denver against the Broncos is the question of the week. Given that he will have the better part of the week practicing against NFL competition, which, when you throw in off days and walk-throughs, is not a whole lot less than his teammates had prepping for the Hall of Fame game Aug. 2.

If Smith does not see the field in Denver, that would push back his first game action until Aug. 25 in Chicago against the Kansas City Chiefs, which is game three and the one starters play the most extensively in the preseason. Smith likely sits out the fourth game, against Buffalo, increasing the value of snaps in Denver next Saturday.

NBC Sports Chicago recently looked at prominent cases of Bears holdouts (Cedric Benson, Curtis Enis, McNown) and notable non-holdouts (Lance Briggs, Olin Kreutz, Charles Tillman, Brian Urlacher), with the clear conclusion that there is no demonstrable relationship longer-term between the success/lack of same of players who got contracts done on time and those who went through negotiating delays. Holdout players occasionally have injury issues but those, as in the cases of Benson, Enis and McNown, had less to do with the holdouts than ability shortcomings, or injuries unrelated to their holdouts.

The difficulty with fully understanding the current situation is that neither side has gone public with much in the way of detail, except the Bears dropping hints that they were giving in on a point that more than one player agent told NBC Sports Chicago never should have been there in the first place – the prospect of un-guaranteeing monies based on unspecified possible on-field situations. That allowed the Bears to claim a bit of the perceived PR high ground, with some immediate public reaction that now it was Smith’s turn to give in.

Regardless, no one really cares about all of that now. Notably, his teammates don’t particularly care. They know it’s a business, and Smith evinced none of the first-round repulsiveness that bugged teammates in the cases of Benson, Enis and McNown, who were all roundly disliked virtually from before the holdouts were resolved.

Smith has engendered none of that and now becomes a critical component of a defense in dire need of impact players. He has been projected as an obvious drop-in ahead of Nick Kwiatkoski and alongside Danny Trevathan, which suddenly gives the Bears more firepower at inside linebacker than they have had during the Vic Fangio regime, which has had to hope for health from Trevathan, Jerrell Freeman and even Kwiatkoski, none of whom have put together 16-game Bears seasons for various reasons.

The Bears have seen arrows pointing sharply upward for members of their 2018 draft class. James Daniels (No. 2A) is already challenging for a starting spot on the offensive line. Anthony Miller (No. 2B) has been hampered by injuries in the past few days but was arguably the standout wide receiver in camp. Bilal Nichols (No. 5) has worked into the defensive-line rotation. Kylie Fitts (No. 6) has shown flashes as an edge rusher. Javon Wims (No. 7) flashed against Baltimore. 

Now comes what the Bears hope to be the flagship of the draft class.