LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Pernell McPhee was back at practice for the first time this season, and is hoping to play again for the Chicago Bears soon.
The linebacker was placed on the physically unable to perform list when training camp started and did not participate in offseason work after the surgery to his left knee.
The Bears have 21 days to consider whether to put McPhee on the 53-man active roster. He will not play Sunday against Jacksonville.
“I feel great, man,” he said Friday. “I’m out there practicing, running around with my teammates, so that’s the best feeling in the world.”
McPhee, who had five sacks in his first seven games last year after coming over as a free agent from Baltimore, worked through knee issues for much of 2015 and then had surgery. Neither McPhee nor the Bears are saying the exact nature of the injury or surgery. The team found McPhee wasn’t ready to practice in training camp, and he has been rehabbing since.
“You’ve got to go ask the doctors that,” McPhee said about why it took so long. “I had a successful surgery and it’s healed now and I’ve got the opportunity to play football and that’s the only thing that matters.”
McPhee likened his recovery to a car repair.
“So throughout the process, I just had to oil up everything else around so I know I was 100 percent when I come back,” he said.
Bears coach John Fox said the surgery occurred 39 weeks ago and the team would be cautious about McPhee’s return.
“We’re going to have to be smart on how we manage his reps, both on the practice field in preparation, as well as in games,” Fox said. “I think we’re just kind of starting that procedure now.”
McPhee worked with the scout team Friday.
“Obviously, he was excited,” Fox said. “It was good to see a smile on his face.”
McPhee signed a five-year, $40 million free agent contract with the Bears before the 2015 season after starting his career with the Baltimore Ravens. He had five sacks in his first seven games, but began experiencing knee pain and tried to play through it.
McPhee finished with only one more sack in 14 games.
Fox anticipates it will be an emotional boost for his 1-4 team just to have McPhee practicing.
“Friday’s typically a little more of a light workout, but I’d say I think there was some enthusiasm there and some freshness there, for sure,” Fox said.
Wide receiver Marquess Wilson is also on the PUP list due to an offseason foot injury, but the Bears chose not to begin considering him for the roster.
NOTES: Quarterback Jay Cutler (thumb), running back Jeremy Langford (ankle) and nose tackle Eddie Goldman (ankle) are doubtful for Sunday’s game with Jacksonville. They did not practice this week. Cornerback Diondre Hall (ankle) has been ruled out. … Tackle Bobby Massie is questionable after missing Friday’s practice due to an ankle injury.