Anyone who saw the grotesque way Rex Grossman's knee caved in after Redskins tackle Cornelius Griffin rolled into him last Thursday night had to be thinking "torn ACL" requiring reconstruction and a lengthy rehab.
But the five-year veteran quarterback finally got a bit of good luck in the injury department. He suffered a much-less-serious sprained MCL, which should be healed in about a month.
"It hurt at first. I thought it was [worse], and it felt a lot worse than it actually was," Grossman said Tuesday at Halas Hall. "Luckily it was just the MCL and not anything else, so I just have to get better and see where I'm at in a couple weeks."
It's the kind of setback that someone with Grossman's injury history can shrug off. He suffered a torn ACL in his right knee and a fractured ankle less than a year apart, causing him to miss 26 games in a row – the last 13 of the 2004 season and the first 13 of the 2005 season.
"It's unfortunate obviously, but what are you gonna do?" Grossman said. "You just have to play the cards you're dealt and do the best you can, just kind of see how sore it is and see what I can do after the swelling goes down and all that. But that's what I hear."
Grossman doesn't know what kind of cards he'll be dealt in the offseason, when he's scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent. He just hopes he'll have a chance to go all in and compete for a starting job, whether it's here or somewhere else.
Grossman's future in Chicago appeared bleak when he was benched after the first three games this season. But he got his job back after an injury to Brian Griese and showed significant improvement in a four-game stretch, raising his stock considerably – maybe to the point that several teams could be interested in him when free agency begins in March.
"That's the goal," he said, "to have multiple teams wanting your services. But in the end, you just want to land in a good spot and be able to compete for a job. That's what I'm looking forward to."
But Grossman is far from satisfied with the Bears' 5-8 performance, and specifically the way he played to begin the season.
QB Rex Grossman
Evan Vucci/AP Images
"As a team, we have definitely not played the way we're capable of, especially myself early in the season," he said. "I did not play the way I wanted to. But hopefully I learned from some of those mistakes and got back in there and played a little bit better. You just look at the potential of what I can become, and hopefully that's a consistent, good quarterback who can make a big play here and there and still play good football without being too risky."
The Bears' quarterback plans for 2008 are weeks, if not months, away from being finalized. Griese has proven to be a reliable backup and is signed through 2010. After a two-year hiatus, Kyle Orton, who is signed through next season, begins his audition Monday night. Grossman said he wants to be back if the feeling is reciprocated.
"I'd like to be back here if I'm wanted back here," he said. "We'll see what goes on. Right now, I don't have any answers as far as my future. I'm just going along for the ride, and we'll see what my options are at the end of the year."
Grossman has started games in each of his five seasons since being drafted in the first round in 2003 – the last three of his rookie season, the first three in `04 before the ACL injury, Game 15 in `05 plus the playoff game, all 16 last year and six this year. He indicated Tuesday that he doesn't need to be handed the starting job going into next year's training camp to feel wanted.
"I think you're always proving yourself," he said, "and I definitely would like to be in a situation anywhere where I'm competing for the starting job and show what I can do and just improve and take the experience that I've had throughout the last couple years and build upon that. I know I can play good football. So if I'm in a position where I can compete next July, I'll be happy."
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