Mike Brown is just happy to be here

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
Last week in Bourbonnais, Ill., we found out that Mike Brown has learned to take a punch.

After all, there was the ruptured Achilles in 2004.

Then there was the calf in 2005.

The LisFranc fracture in 2006.

The torn anterior cruciate ligament last season.

In all, the Chicago Bears safety has played in only 21 games during the past four seasons, missing 45 for a series of injuries that would have pushed many players into retirement. But Brown has returned for his ninth Bears training camp, reclaiming his starting role with an enjoy-it-while-he-can attitude.

"I'm healthy right now," Brown said when asked if he thought he could make it through 2008. "I go day by day. Right now, I'm healthy, but with my past and everything, who knows how long it's going to last? Hopefully it's the whole season. I'm planning on it being the whole season. I'm preparing to play the whole season. That's all I can do. Some things are out of your control. I come out here every day. I feel blessed to be able to come out here with this team again. So I'm just having fun with it."

Brown is enjoying every minute of his health, knowing how quickly it can be taken away. He made it through the Bears' entire 2007 training camp only to suffer the knee injury in the season-opening game at San Diego. That evening, he wondered emotionally about the future of his career in the locker room.

But last week at training camp, Brown was all over the field as if he had never left it: Quietly instructing young players, excitedly cheering good plays and carrying himself with a determination to extend his career beyond what his body seems built for.

"If you look at him," defensive backs coach Steven Wilks said, "he hasn't missed a beat. It's all about that mindset of hard rehab, really trying to stay focused and getting himself back in shape and on the field. And he's done that."

While working hard to get himself back on the field for training camp, Brown has also developed a realistic view on his career. He hopes to stay healthy, but he said he won't be crushed if another injury takes him away from the game.

"It's part of life," Brown said. "It's football and I love to play, but in the grand scheme of life it's not really that big of a deal. I still have my health. My kids are healthy. My wife is healthy. I love to play and it's a big part of my life, but at the same time I realize it's just a game."

Check out ESPN.com's Camp Confidential review of the Bears' training camp.