Bears tight end Zach Miller stepped to the lectern inside Halas Hall’s media room, then smiled.
“You guys can’t get rid of me, huh?” Miller quipped.
The Bears, of course, don’t want to.
Miller is unlikely to play football again, but his new one-year contract allows him to use the Bears’ facilities and to meet with their medical staff. The Bears want him to be around their young tight ends, quarterback Mitch Trubisky and others.
The Bears placed Miller on the reserve physically-unable-to-play list Tuesday, one day after he signed his veteran’s minimum contract. He’s in the middle of a long recovery and rehabilitation process after he suffered a dislocated left knee in Week 8 of last season in New Orleans.
Here are some of the highlights from Miller’s news conference:
On what the Bears’ support means to him:
“Yeah, pretty cool. Hard or tough to put into words. Just really, in general, how they’ve taken care of me since Day 1, and then that relationship with [chairman George McCaskey] personally and then the entire organization has kind of blossomed. It’s tough for me to put it into words what it means to me, but very thankful and just grateful to be a part of this family.”
On how his deal came to fruition:
“I’m not sure when that started or when it was initiated, but I’m sure he was there kind of through the whole thing. I’m not specifically sure when that happened. I spoke with [general manager Ryan Pace] last Friday and he kind of called me up and told me about the decision they had came to. I’m grateful for them taking me in and treating me the way they have.”
On where he is physically and what milestones have been reached:
“I’m feeling good. Knee’s getting stronger, really daily. I’ve been putting a lot of work in here just continuing to work on strengthening that area, everything around it. That’s kind of the big thing about this is it allows me to have that opportunity to continue to do that. So I feel good and continue just getting stronger, get healthier. Time will tell. Just put everything into it that I can and kind of see see where that takes me.”
On where he is mentally:
“I don’t think I’ve ever really been mentally defeated – ever. I feel good. I feel I’m in a good place. I’m happy with where I’m at and with my recovery. I’m happy with the steps that we’ve made. Positivity has been one of my qualities that’s helped get me through all this stuff. I’m in a good place mentally.”
On being around his teammates:
“That’s huge. I mean, it really is. This could be very difficult. You know what I mean? I could be away and kind of removed from what I’ve been used to for a very long time — not having that brotherhood, not having people see me every day or check in on me. That stuff matters. That adds to that positivity, that adds to my happiness. That’ll for sure help me in my recovery.”
On what’s ahead for the Bears under new coach Matt Nagy:
“That’s the bittersweet part of it, seeing first of all how awesome coach Nagy is, not only as a guy but his football knowledge is unbelievable. Very cool, very collected, has a little bit of swagger to him, which is just fun to be around. Then you go to the football field and you look at the scheme that we have, it would be a lot of fun to be a part of. But it’s not in the cards quite yet for me to take part in that. But as I sit and I watch and I see all the weapons that we have, what we’ve added, the dynamic play-making ability that we have as a collective group, there’s a positive, positive future here, so I’m excited to be a part of it.”