While the first official practice of training camp doesn’t start until Thursday, Bears’ players will spend the day today in positional meetings, watching film, performing conditional drills and receiving physicals.
Of the 89 players currently on the roster, all but one is expected to pass physicals and practice on Thursday.
Wide receiver Johnny Knox, who was nearly folded backward on top of himself after a devastating hit from Seahawks’ safety Cam Chancellor in December of 2011, underwent back surgery to stabilize fractured vertebrae in his lower back just seven months ago.
GM Phil Emery talked about Knox’s progress on Tuesday. “He’s able to do all the [weight] lifting,” Emery said. “He’s doing quite a bit of rehab. He’s doing some light running, able to get off the assistant treadmill, so he is doing those activities. He is making steady progress toward getting back on the field.”
While the fact that Knox is even doing those things at this point is pretty remarkable, given the severity of his injuries, he is by no means ready to participate in practice.
Knox will be placed, initially, on the 'Active PUP' list, meaning he can rehab and participate in team meetings, but cannot participate in practice. Knox is expected to go on the list today, as the rules stipulate he must be listed as PUP (physically unable to perform) prior to the first practice of training camp.
Assuming Knox continues to progress, the Active PUP allows for players to be reinstated to the active roster at any time. Players on Active PUP, however, do count against the team’s official roster.
If by the end of the preseason Knox is not ready to go, the Bears may elect to move him to the 'Reserve PUP'. Typically, players are moved to Reserve PUP if they are expected to return within a few (three) weeks. Ultimately, however, if Knox can’t return by Week-6, he will have to be placed on Injured Reserve and will not be able to return at all in 2012.
What's additionally concerning for Knox is that he is a free agent after this season—a time he had certainly been looking forward to prior to his injury, but that he now likely dreads.
Being in the final year of his deal, Knox’s salary this season will be “tolled” as per the CBA if he does not return to the active roster by Week-6.
As I’ve said many times here, I’m strongly pulling for Knox and his future.