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Thursday, February 2, 2012
Johnny Knox talks about his recovery

By Michael C. Wright
ESPNChicago.com

In making his first public comments since suffering a horrific back injury Dec. 18 against the Seattle Seahawks, Bears receiver Johnny Knox posted on Twitter that he can remember the play "like it was yesterday."

Knox suffered a fractured vertebra that required surgery on a hit against the Seahawks, after a 17-yard catch on a slant route in the first quarter. Attempting to make a move to get free after the reception, Knox fumbled when Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor poked the ball loose. Scrambling to recover the loose ball, Knox absorbed a vicious blow from Seattle defensive end Anthony Hargrove that bent the receiver backward awkwardly.

Knox lay motionless on the turf at Soldier Field for several minutes after the blow as medical personnel frantically worked on the receiver.

Knox posted his first thought after the hit was, "Can [I] move my legs. k im good."

Asked about the most memorable moment of the experience, the receiver -- @Jknox13 on Twitter -- tweeted, "Damn [I] fumbled lol."

Despite the gruesome nature of the hit, Knox is expected to be able to continue his career. At the time, Bears coach Lovie Smith called the hit "brutal," but "I can't say that [it was dirty]. [The] guy was playing hard, an unfortunate play. It's a violent sport, and sometimes ... you don't see hits like that very often. But I can't say it was dirty or anything like that."

Based on Knox's response to a question from one of his followers, the receiver came dangerously close to not being able to walk again.

Asked how close, Knox replied, "If [I] tell [you], [you] won't be able to sleep." Knox will be required to wear a back brace until the middle of March, and the receiver tweeted the brace is only taken off when he showers. Knox also posted a picture of the brace on his Twitter account.

Knox finished the season with 727 yards and two touchdowns in 2011, averaging 19.6 yards per catch, which ranked as second best in the NFL and 10th best in Bears single-season franchise history, and the highest by a member of the club since 1987, when Willie Gault averaged 20.1 yards per catch.

Having turned down an offer for a contract extension very similar to the one signed by Earl Bennett at the end of the season according to multiple sources, Knox enters the final year of his original rookie contract which will pay him $565,000 in base salary.

Responding to a question about whether he'd be able to play in 2012, Knox replied, "I'm focused on getting 100% first!"

Michael C. Wright covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.