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Johnny Knox needs back surgery, but he’ll be OK

Bears receiver Johnny Knox is taken off field spinal board after injuring his back first quarter against Seahawks. | AP

Bears receiver Johnny Knox is taken off the field on a spinal board after injuring his back in the first quarter against the Seahawks. | AP

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Updated: January 20, 2012 8:15AM

It didn’t seem as though the bad news could get any worse for the Bears after wide receiver Sam Hurd’s stunning arrest on drug charges last week. But three possessions into the game Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks, it looked like it did.

Wide receiver Johnny Knox gave his teammates — and everybody else at Soldier Field — a scare when he lay on the turf after a brutal hit snapped his entire upper body back in the first quarter. Knox, who was trying to recover his own fumble, was put on a spinal board and taken off the field on a cart.

The Bears announced Knox will have surgery to stabilize a vertebra in his back. It is thought he will be out a month or two but will be able to resume playing football.

‘‘There is a positive prognosis for his playing career and quality of life,’’ a team spokesman said.

After the game, coach Lovie Smith said he was relieved to know the injury wasn’t as serious as it appeared.

‘‘Johnny has total movement throughout his body, has total use of all his extremities, which is good,’’ Smith said. ‘‘He is not paralyzed or anything like that.’’

Knox had caught a third-and-six pass from Caleb Hanie for a 17-yard gain to the Bears’ 24-yard line before safety Kam Chancellor knocked the ball loose. Knox dived back for the ball but was hit by 6-3, 272-pound defensive end Anthony Hargrove and bent backward.

‘‘We’re just all glad he’s OK,’’ Smith said.

Teammates, of course, were concerned.

‘‘I’m praying for him,’’ wide receiver Earl Bennett said. ‘‘I hope he’ll be all right.’’

‘‘We were scared for him because we saw it on the big screen and it looked like he kind of folded back,’’ running back Kahlil Bell said. ‘‘It’s tough. It’s a physical game. Injuries happen. But you never want to see your teammate on a stretcher or [an opponent] on a stretcher. At the end of the day, it’s just a game.’’

Conte out

Rookie safety Chris Conte suffered a foot injury in the second quarter and didn’t return. Brandon Meriweather replaced him.

Strong safety Major Wright, who was listed as probable, was inactive. Craig Steltz started in his place.

‘A fat kid’s dream’

Seahawks 323-pound defensive end Red Bryant was in the right place at the right time when Hanie pretty much hit him between the numbers for an interception that he returned 20 yards for a touchdown.

‘‘Got me a little ‘Prime Time’ in,’’ Bryant said, referring to Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders. ‘‘I didn’t get to walk in like him, but just .  .  . watching Deion Sanders do it and getting that opportunity — that’s a fat kid’s dream right there. I was glad I was able to high-step it a little bit.’’

Hurd’s ‘betrayal’

General manager Jerry Angelo reiterated his contention ‘‘there was no way’’ the Bears could have known about a federal investigation of Hurd and ripped him for ‘‘the ultimate selfish act’’ of betrayal.

‘‘Absolutely. Anybody would feel betrayed,’’ Angelo told WBBM-AM’s Jeff Joniak on the Bears’ pregame show. ‘‘We want loyalty. We give loyalty. It’s a two-way street. He understands that. That’s part of being a teammate. That’s why this is so upsetting. He knew what he was doing. .  .  . It’s the ultimate selfish act of a human being to affect the livelihoods and reputations of people [he works for and with].’’

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