Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFL [Print without images]

Monday, August 20, 2012
Bears cautious with Brandon Hardin

By Michael C. Wright
ESPNChicago.com

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Although sore, Chicago Bears rookie safety Brandon Hardin feels well enough to play after being carted off the field Saturday with a neck injury in a victory over the Washington Redskins, according to a source familiar with the situation.

But because of the nature of the injury, the Bears will exercise caution in bringing back Hardin, who is scheduled in two weeks to undergo an MRI because there's a chance trauma exists in the injured area.

According to the source, there's no risk of paralysis and Hardin will be able to play football again. The question now becomes whether the team plans to hold Hardin's roster spot, considering the Bears are working through injuries at the position. Second-year safety Chris Conte suffered a shoulder injury against the Redskins.

"He's day to day right now," Bears coach Lovie Smith said of Hardin. "He has a neck injury. So if you can find someone who can pinpoint exactly when he'll be back, let me know. We'll start using him. Really can't tell you a lot more than that. He's back up here, and he's getting better."

There's a possibility the team could place Hardin on the injured reserve, but that's not a move the team is pressed to make at this point. It's likely the Bears will wait to receive the results of Hardin's MRI in two weeks before making a roster decision.

One day after the injury, on Sunday, Hardin posted to his Twitter account: "Thanks for all the thoughts and prayers. I can't give an exact update, but the good news is that I'm gonna be OK. And we won!"

Hardin suffered the neck injury when he appeared to lead with his head while making a tackle on Redskins tight end Logan Paulsen at the end of a 19-yard completion early in the third quarter.

Trainers eventually immobilized Hardin's neck and placed him on a stretcher. As the trainers carted him off the field, Hardin could be seen moving his arms. In addition, the third-round pick out of Oregon State gave a thumbs-up to the crowd as he came off the field.

A converted cornerback, Hardin (6-3, 217 pounds) had been working as the fourth safety behind Major Wright, Chris Conte and Craig Steltz, and is expected to be a contributor this season on special teams.

ESPNChicago.com's Jeff Dickerson contributed to this report.