LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Chicago Bears coach John Fox provided an encouraging update on the health of tight end Zach Miller, who remains hospitalized following emergency vascular surgery to repair a damaged artery in his left leg on Sunday night.
“He’s progressing well,” Fox said Tuesday. “I think he’s with his family and there’s been a lot of people [who have reached] out from around the league. [There’s supposed to have] been some Saints players heading by today, so again, he’s progressing well.”
Miller was rushed to the hospital after he dislocated his left knee during the third quarter of Chicago’s 20-12 loss at New Orleans on Sunday.
Miller had made an over-the-shoulder catch on a throw from rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky in the end zone, but when he landed, his left leg bent awkwardly.
Sensing the serious nature of the injury, Bears medical personnel rushed onto the field to assist Miller, who stayed down for several minutes before being taken off the field on a cart.
Officials later ruled that Miller did not maintain possession of the ball, negating a potential touchdown catch.
The Bears announced on Monday that vascular surgeons at University Medical Center New Orleans stabilized Miller’s injury, which was diagnosed as a torn popliteal artery.
A source told ESPN’s Chris Mortensen later Monday that the artery was found “shredded from above the knee joint to below the knee” by the vascular surgeons, who diagnosed Miller’s injury as a lateral subluxation. There is also orthopedic damage to the knee, the source said.
The surgeons praised Bears team doctor Mark Bowen for quickly identifying the vascular problem by checking Miller’s dropping pulse.
According to the source, surgeons used a saphenous vein graft procedure to revascularize Miller’s leg.
The initial fear was that Miller’s left leg may have to be amputated, but Fox said on Monday that Miller’s medical team “felt good about where [Miller] was at” in terms of avoiding amputation. However, Fox doesn’t know whether Miller suffered any nerve damage in the leg.
“Not being a doctor, but the feedback I’ve gotten is the initial concern was the artery and I didn’t hear much other than that, so from a prognosis standpoint …” Fox said. “I don’t want to delve too deep into specifics, but that was a big concern and they addressed it, and like I said, he’s progressing well.”
Fox spoke with Miller by telephone on Monday and said the veteran tight end’s children attended the team’s employee Halloween party at the club’s facility on Monday night with Miller’s mother. Miller’s wife and father have been in New Orleans since shortly after the injury occurred.