Azumah Down But Not Out For Long

BOURBONNAIS _ Chicago Bears cornerback Jerry Azumah calls reports of his right hip injury greatly exaggerated.

"It's frustrating, but I'm not going to miss any (regular-season) games,'' he said.

Azumah underwent hip surgery Wednesday and talked Saturday with reporters for the first time since returning Friday to training camp. He said he expects to miss only two more weeks of practices when original estimates said three to four weeks.

"It's not like they cut me from my neck to my knee,'' the seventh-year cornerback said.

Azumah underwent an arthroscopic procedure. He said reports that he had hip arthritis were untrue.

"There's nothing wrong with my hip,'' Azumah said. "I just had some inflammation and they went in and cleaned it out, just like any other scope.

"They scope to the knee, ankle, shoulder, elbow, it's all the same. It's just inflammation to a joint and you get it cleaned out and guys come back from that fairly quick.''

If he recovers at the rate he expects from this injury, Azumah said it's possible he could be back to play in the final preseason game Sept. 1 against Cleveland at Soldier Field.

Last year Azumah missed almost all of training camp and the first four regular season games due to disc surgery in his neck.

Azumah also refuted an earlier team statement that he had been having a problem with the hip prior to training camp. Coach Lovie Smith had said this on Tuesday.

"It started aggravating, irritating me during camp,'' Azumah said."I stayed off of it, took some precautionary measures, and after that I was like, you know what, let me just go ahead and get the procedure done, clean it out, and that's it.'' Azumah had missed a handful of practices after a week of camp and Smith had initially said the seventh-year cornerback had sore legs.

Second-year cornerback Nathan Vasher will take Azumah's place in the starting lineup in Monday night's preseason game with Miami.

JOURNEY INTO THE UKNOWN
After Saturday nights Olivet Nazarene Appreciation night workout in Ward Field, Bears coach Lovie Smith wasn't about to reveal how long starters will play in Monday night's Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio

"We're going to play the guys until we feel good about what we're doing, and then we'll take them out,'' Smith said. "We don't have a set amount of time.''

Reading between the lines, it sounds like a few series for starters.

"We would like for, of course, our Ones to get some work in,'' he said. "The first preseason game -- we have five preseason games and we would like to get a good evaluation of some of our other players.

"With our Ones, we would like for them to get some good plays and kind of go from there.''


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