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Bears’ Johnny Knox could miss 2012 season

Johnny Knox

Johnny Knox

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Updated: July 3, 2012 9:17AM

Wide receiver Johnny Knox was in good spirits Wednesday at the Bears’ offseason practice at Halas Hall but still a long way from participating in practice and an even longer way from playing in a game.

Still rehabilitating from surgery to stabilize a vertebra in his back after suffering a horrific injury Dec. 18 against the Seattle Seahawks, a clearly underweight Knox acknowledged the possibility that he might miss part or all of the 2012 season.

‘‘It could happen, but I’m staying optimistic,’’ said Knox, who was second in the NFL with 19.6 yards per catch last season, when he had 37 receptions for a team-leading 727 yards and two touchdowns. ‘‘My main focus is in the weight room. I’m not in a rush. This is my spine, the core of my body I’m dealing with. It’s not my knee, ankle or shoulder. I’m taking my time.’’

Knox said he lost 30 pounds after the surgery but has regained 10 in rehab, which would put him at about 165 pounds on his 6-foot frame. He said he’s jogging but not running routes, and he’s doing light weightlifting to build up muscle. But there’s no timetable for his return.

‘‘I’m doing great; I’m feeling a lot better from Day 1,’’ he said. ‘‘Getting stronger. Working on some things to get stronger in my lower body and my back. Most importantly, mentally, too.’’

22 skidoo

As expected, unsigned running back Matt Forte is skipping the organized team activities. Forte is hoping to sign a long-term contract rather than the $7.7 million one-year offer he received after the Bears applied the franchise tag.

Michael Bush, the former Raider signed as a free agent, is getting the bulk of the reps in practice.

‘‘Bush is doing a good job,’’ quarterback Jay Cutler said. ‘‘We all know what Matt can do for this offense. We all expect to have Matt at some point. I don’t think anybody in this building is really worried about Matt coming in here and doing what we expect him to do.’’

Urlacher, Carimi out

Linebacker Brian Urlacher (sprained MCL/PCL), right tackle Gabe Carimi (dislocated kneecap) and long snapper Pat Mannelly (torn ACL) are present but not participating while recovering from injuries. Cornerback D.J. Moore missed practice for personal reasons.

Second-year linebacker Dom DeCicco, the Bears’ leading returning special-teams tackler, played in Urlacher’s spot in practice. Rookie A.J. Greene, an undrafted free agent from Auburn, and veteran Mansfield Wrotto had first-team reps at right tackle.

Mr. Versatility

Former first-round pick Chris Williams, who started the first nine games at left guard before suffering an injury last season, is back where he started: at left tackle. Williams is competing with J’Marcus Webb for the starting job.

Williams has started seven games at left tackle, 11 games at right tackle and 20 games at left guard in his four-year career.

‘‘I like to think I can play anywhere, so I’m just working, just glad to be back with the team,’’ Williams said. ‘‘It’s just fun being out there after missing the last half of the season.’’

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