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Johnny Knox has surgery, should be ready for camp

Updated: January 21, 2012 8:17AM

Bears receiver Johnny Knox underwent surgery Monday to stabilize the L1 vertebra in the lumbar region of his back and is projected to be ready for 2012 training camp, if not sooner, according to a league source.

The Bears wouldn’t provide a timetable, but a source said Knox could be healed in three months.

That meshes with comments from Neel Anand, the director of orthopedic spine surgery at the Cedars-Sinai Spine Center in Los Angeles.

“If it’s an innocuous fracture, and all he needs is screws and rods, he could come back in three to six months,” Anand said.

Some surgeries sideline an athlete for a year. But Anand said Knox having full movement is a very encouraging sign.

Teammates were relieved after hearing the positive news on Knox.

“You just want to make sure that, ultimately, he’s OK. Life first,” defensive end Israel Idonije said. “That’s good news, that he’s going to be all right. And we look forward to him getting 100 percent and getting back to the fellas.”

There was plenty of concern initially.

In the first quarter Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks as Knox was trying to recover his fumble, defensive end Anthony Hargrove drilled him and pushed his back backward, the only direction it’s not intended to go.

He was placed on a flat board, loaded onto a motorized cart and transported via an ambulance to a local hospital. The team announced after the game that Knox had full movement in all his extremities and that he would have surgery to stabilize a vertebra in his back.

Coach Lovie Smith didn’t have any problem with Hargrove’s hit.

“Guy was playing hard, an unfortunate play,” Smith said. “It’s a violent sport. You don’t see hits like that very often, but I can’t say that it was dirty or anything like that.”

Knox’s surgery was performed by Srdjan Mirkovic, the Bears’ spine consultant.

The Bears announced that Knox was put on injured reserve.

Knox finishes the season as the Bears’ leading receiver with 727 yards, and he ranked second with 37 receptions.

The Bears also announced that rookie safety Chris Conte was put on injured reserve with a foot injury.

With a roster spot open because of the release Friday of Sam Hurd, the Bears promoted running back Armando Allen, defensive end Thaddeus Gibson and receiver Max Komar to the active roster.

They also added running back Robert Hughes to the practice squad.

Hughes played at Notre Dame and played well for the Bears in the preseason.

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