Player Perspective: Rod Wilson

Lake Forest - Spending rookie year on injured reserve is every young player's worst nightmare. Bears seventh round pick, linebacker Rod Wilson is all too familiar with the frustrations of an unexpected and unwelcome season ending injury after being sidelined with a knee injury.

The pressure is definitely on for a quick and full recovery from a deep bone bruise for Wilson. As 220th overall pick in the draft, he's well aware that how he handles the mental anguish and deals with the physical limitations will determine his future in the NFL.

"You know, it happened so fast, I hardly realized that I'd been hurt as badly as I was," Wilson said. 'It was during training camp. I just got hit wrong and went down hard. The pain was incredible. I was checked out on the field then taken into the locker room.

"I ended up getting an MRI in Chicago and found out how extensive the problem was. The doctors told me that although I should recover, there was no way I'd be on the field this season. My first reaction was of total shock. This couldn't be happening to me."

What Wilson feared most was falling behind his fellow rookies in development as the season progressed. Three members of the draft class have already started a game.

"The NFL is so competitive, particularly when you are new to the league," Wilson said. "When I'm able to, I go out to the practice field and watch them work out the plays. I try to concentrate as much as possible so I can remember what the guys are doing and how they're moving. I'm hoping that by osmosis I'll pick up some pointers that will be of use to me once I'm sound ready to return."

Wilson is also a part of the team, as far as attending team meetings.

"Everybody has been good about trying to include me in as much as possible in what's going on," Wilson said. "I have the chance to learn the playbook and pickup the intellectual side of things. But my main concern is that it could be difficult to translate that knowledge to actual plays once I am back."

Currently, Wilson's days are spent in various forms of rehabilitation, most of which takes place at Halas Hall.

"I do get the NFL experience as much as I can," Wilson said. "Just being around here helps me. I don't want to feel isolated and useless. Hanging around the guys is encouraging in that regard. I can tell that they feel bad for me, but there's not much they can do to help. Just giving me emotional support means more than they can imagine."

Wilson had hoped that he'd be on the sidelines observing during games, but that hasn't worked out either.

"I tried that for a while, then decided not to continue," Wilson said. "Too much standing would be involved and there would be the chance that I'd be knocked around if a play came my way. It wasn't worth the risk."

And traveling to away games was clearly out of the question.

"Busses, planes, no way I could handle that. Instead, I watch the Bears just like all the fans do, from the comfort of my couch," the South Carolina product said. "When there's a horrible weather day like last Sunday that isn't such a bad thing, but believe me I'd rather be out there soaking wet and cold than not able to be there at all."

Wilson has gained considerable respect for injured quarterback Rex Grossman.

"I see Rex each and every day just working as hard as he can to comeback," Wilson said. "That's inspirational to me. To have two major injuries in such a short period of time must have been devastating for Rex. He worked so hard to comeback, then he's out once more. But he never gives up, he's always trying. If he works that hard to get back, well, so can I."

When the season ends, Wilson plans to head to Florida and train at a facility there.

"That's my off-season home, and its the right place for me to be," Wilson said. "Florida has many professional athletes that work at various training facilities. The people who run them are highly trained to work with players that need conditioning following injury."

Wilson expects a rigorous program that will yield positive results.

"What I'll be doing then is to start from step one, getting my flexibility and agility back," Wilson said. "Then I will move on to a more strenuous conditioning program. I think that is what concerns me most of all. I just haven't been able to workout as I am accustomed to doing. How long will it take to be back where I want to be?"

And during this time, Wilson will continue to consult with Bears approved orthopedic specialists.

"So far I've been told that this is not career ending," Wilson said. "It's something that I have to work through. The doctors have said that I need to address my mental frustrations as much as my physical limitations.

"If I can remain optimistic that I can and will comeback, then things should turn out OK for me. This time next year, I want to look back and view it as something bad I had to go through. The Bears organization has been great with their encouragement and support, and I see no reason that will change. I want to justify their faith in me."


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