Johnny Knox still recovering

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears wide receiver Johnny Knox said on Friday he's unsure if the team plans to activate him from the physically unable to perform list before the end of the regular season.

"I haven't heard," Knox said. "The last thing I heard was that I was going on PUP back in training camp. That's the last thing I heard."

Knox is eligible to come off the PUP list after the team's bye week.

NFL rules state a player on PUP can start practicing as early as Week 7 and as late as Week 9 but does not move to the 53-man roster. Once a player starts practicing he can be activated (moved to the 53-man roster) at any time during the next 21 days. If he is not activated by the end of that 21-day period, he must remain on PUP for the season.

A player does not have to pass a physical to start practicing but would have to pass a physical to be put on the active 53-man roster.

Knox still is attempting to recover from a spine injury that occurred last Dec. 18 against the Seattle Seahawks. Knox absorbed a devastating hit from Seattle defensive end Anthony Hargrove that bent his body back awkwardly as he tried to recover his own fumble. The receiver eventually underwent surgery to repair a fractured vertebra and missed the entire offseason program and training camp before being placed on the PUP list in late August.

Even though Knox is unable to practice he continues to rehab at the team facility with the hope of one day returning to the field.

"I'm better than the last time we talked," Knox said. "Still working on some things and trying to improve on some things and I'm headed in the right direction. I added a little more here and there, not too much different. I'm out there running, moving a little bit better, but not too much different from the last time we talked.

"In camp, I wasn't exactly where I wanted to be. But up to now, it's like night and day. I'm getting better and when that day comes I'm ready to get back out there on the field."

Still, Knox admitted he has yet to run full speed since the injury.

"Not yet," Knox said. "I haven't let that animal out of the cage yet. But we're getting there.

"(I'm) nervous in a way that I want things to be back to normal. But I know that I'm still working on some things and we're just going to wait and see when that day comes."

The former fifth-round pick caught 133 passes for 2,214 yards and 12 touchdowns in 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.

"It's hard sitting back there watching," Knox said. "There have been some ups and downs, but the good thing I got out of it is that we've been winning and everybody is happy. That motivates me to get back out there. (My teammates) have been treating me just as if I was out there in the field. Everyone talks to me, laughs and jokes and invites me over. I don't feel like an outsider."