Johnny Knox to start on PUP list

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears placed rookie free safety Brandon Hardin on injured reserve and wide receiver Johnny Knox on the physically unable to perform list, plus released 10 players Sunday.

The Bears announced on Monday that they had also released fullback Harvey Unga, trimming the roster to 75 players. Their 53-man roster must be set by 9 p.m. ET Friday.

Hardin, the club's 2012 third-round draft choice out of Oregon State, suffered a neck injury in the Bears' second preseason game against the Washington Redskins. Hardin was later released from the hospital and never lost feeling in his arms or legs during the incident. He has been seen walking around the team facility the last couple of days wearing a neck brace.

This marks the second consecutive season Hardin will miss after he sat out all of his final year in college due to a shoulder injury.

"Disappointing whenever you have a plan in place for (a player)," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "Injuries are a part of it. After you have a collision like that and you lay on the turf, him playing isn't the first thing on your mind. I'm glad he'll be OK. These things happen. As a rookie, a lot of players had to go on IR their first year, and normally you learn an awful lot that year being out of football."

Knox still is attempting to recover from a gruesome spine injury that occurred last Dec. 18 against the Seattle Seahawks. Knox is eligible to come off the PUP list after Week 6.

"It was to be expected," Knox said of the move. "I knew I wouldn't be able to come back for training camp or preseason, so I'm just still taking it day by day.

"I do believe I'll be back on the field. It could be this season, next season, who knows? But I'm going to keep striving to get better and get back on the field."

The former fifth-round pick caught 133 passes for 2,214 yards and 12 touchdowns over his first three years in the league. As a rookie, Knox was named to the Pro Bowl as a return man after he averaged 29.0 yards per kickoff return and had a 102-yard return for a score.

"We have hope for Johnny," Smith said. "I've seen him improve so much and I'm not just talking about since the injury but in the offseason. All you can do if you're Johnny Knox is just come in every day and work. He started almost immediately, and it's been like that almost every day. I know it's tough for him at the level he's played at not being there right now. He's getting a little better each day."

The club also terminated the contract of vested veteran defensive tackle John McCargo.

The Bears waived the following players: linebacker K.C. Asiodu, quarterback Matt Blanchard, safety Trevor Coston, receivers Terriun Crump and Chris Summers, and defensive ends Derek Walker and Thaddeus Gibson. They also waived/injured linebacker Adrien Cole and guard Nick Pieschel.

"It's tough," Smith said. "We all dream, if you're an athlete, to make that game-winning play at the end or just being on an NFL team. That's a dream of everybody that comes here. Some of them you have cut that dream short a little bit, but that's just part of it. Eventually they're going to tell all of us they want to go a different direction. We all realize that."