Corey Wootton was shifted from defensive end to defensive tackle because of the Bears’ injuries and had 31⁄2 sacks. | Getty Images
Updated: February 15, 2014 6:28AM
Saying it will ‘‘help make me better at everything,’’ Bears defensive lineman Corey Wootton had arthroscopic surgery Jan. 7 to repair a nagging hip injury.
But Wootton, whose contract expires in March, won’t be 100 percent by the time free agency starts March 11. He told the Sun-Times on Monday that his recovery time will be four to six months.
That said, Wootton has started his rehabilitation and said he feels good after having surgery.
‘‘I just know that this is going to help make me better at everything,’’ said Wootton, who is expected to garner considerable interest from other teams in free agency.
Wootton had his labrum — the ring of cartilage that holds the ball-and-socket joint in place as a shock absorber — repaired. He also had a terminal femoroacetabular impingement, which occurs when hip bones are abnormally shaped, decompressed in a procedure performed by Dr. Benjamin Domb of Adventist Hinsdale Hospital.
Wootton said he felt pain during the 2012 season and ‘‘didn’t really think anything of it,’’ but he aggravated the hip in training camp last summer.
‘‘Since then, it’s been really nagging,’’ Wootton said. ‘‘I knew that surgery definitely had to be done.’’
Wootton still managed to be one of the unsung heroes of the Bears’ defense this season, admirably handling a switch from his natural end position to tackle because of all the injuries up front. He finished with 3½ sacks.
‘‘I know it did [hinder me],’’ Wootton said. ‘‘I’m not gonna make excuses or anything, but it was good to get it out.’’
The Bears are interested in bringing Wootton back, even if they decide to switch to a 3-4 defense or use a hybrid scheme. That is unsettled, though the Bears already have said coordinator Mel Tucker will return next season.
In his year-end review, general manager Phil Emery said Wootton ‘‘would transcend scheme,’’ regardless of the direction the Bears take.
‘‘I was in a 3-4 — a pure, straight 3-4 defense — in Kansas City, and he could have been the right end,’’ Emery said. ‘‘If he put a little weight on, he could be the left end. He played under tackle for us [this season].
‘‘Corey was most disruptive as a pass rusher . . . at D-tackle this year. Now in the past, obviously, he had a pretty good year a year ago [at defensive end].’’