Bears: surgery to save Miller's injured leg 'successful'

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Chicago Bears tight end Zach Miller (86) is taken off the field on a cart after injuring his leg against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. Miller dislocated his knee on an apparent touchdown reception that was overturned on review.

    Chicago Bears tight end Zach Miller (86) is taken off the field on a cart after injuring his leg against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. Miller dislocated his knee on an apparent touchdown reception that was overturned on review. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 10/30/2017 6:27 PM

Initial indications are encouraging after Bears tight end Zach Miller had emergency vascular surgery Sunday night for a left knee that was so badly dislocated it caused a torn artery, which created the potential for amputation.

"He's got good pulse in his lower leg, as well as good feeling," said Bears coach John Fox, who spoke by phone with his player. Miller remains at University Medical Center in New Orleans, where he was rushed after the Bears' medical staff realized the severity of his injury.

 

"His foot is warm, which is a good sign," Fox said. "Not that he's out of the woods by any stretch, but it's as good as could be expected at this point, so (we) appreciate if you keep him in your thoughts and prayers."

Miller's injury required vascular surgeons to graft tissue from his right leg to repair the damaged artery in his left leg -- a measure that would help to save the injured leg.

The Bears are hopeful Miller is past that point.

"I don't want to go down that path," Fox said. "I'm not a doctor. I'm not right there, but I think they feel good about where he is right now, as it relates to that."

The 33-year-old Miller suffered the injury on what was originally ruled a 25-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter. When he came down with the ball in the endzone, Miller's left knee buckled grotesquely as he landed awkwardly after making an over-the-shoulder catch. After replay review, the call on the field was overruled and it was determined to be an incomplete pass.

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"He pretty much wanted his touchdown back," Fox said of his phone conversation with Miller. "He was in good spirits. I was talking to Kristin his wife, and he basically snagged the phone from her.

"I was shocked to hear his voice because I didn't know the recovery process. But typical Zach, he was arguing about catch, no catch. But very supportive of the team. Very unselfish. That's just him, and it's genuine. That's just the kind of person he is and the kind of teammate he is."

Shortly before Fox addressed the media Monday afternoon, the Bears issued a statement indicating that efforts to save the leg were successful. Miller, however, is likely to require additional surgeries, and his career is in jeopardy.

"Zach Miller sustained a serious injury to his left knee and immediate evaluation from our medical team on site rushed him to nearby University Medical Center New Orleans (UMC) for urgent vascular surgery to repair a torn popliteal artery," the statement read. "Successful surgery was performed immediately on Sunday by the UMC vascular surgeons to stabilize his injury. Zach remains at UMC, along with Bears medical personnel, where he will stay under further evaluation. We are thinking of Zach and his family and support from our entire organization goes out to them."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Miller has a long history of serious injuries. He was sidelined for three years with a variety of injuries and did not play in a single game from mid-2011 through 2014. But he returned to have back-to-back career years with the Bears. In 2015, he caught 34 passes for 439 yards (12.9-yard average) and 5 touchdowns. Last year, the 6-foot-5, 243-pounder caught 47 passes for 486 yards (10.3-yard average) and 4 touchdowns before a fractured foot landed him on injured reserve after 10 games.

Before the 2016 season, Miller signed a two-year, $5.5 million contract.

It's likely that Miller also suffered ligament damage in his knee, but Fox said that issue hasn't been addressed yet.

"All that stuff, they haven't dealt with it to be quite honest with you," Fox said "I really haven't visited too much with our medical people as far as the extent of the actual knee injury. Getting this (vascular surgery) addressed was far more important."

• Follow Bob's Bears reports on Twitter @BobLeGere.

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