When Johnny Knox was injured, it affected more than just him and his family. Devin Hester, Knox's teammate and friend, felt deeply for the Bears' leading receiver. Now, Knox and Hester are leaning on each other to get through Knox's injury and rehab.
Hester is already the subject of predictions for a great year. Brandon Marshall predicted Hester will go the Pro Bowl as a receiver. The NFL Network put Hester at No. 48 on their list of the NFL's best 100 players. But even during OTAs, Hester has Knox on his mind.
"I know he gets tired of the rehab because it's the same thing every day,'' Hester said. "You can tell he gets frustrated here and there because it seems like it's not working. But at the same time, it's going to be a miracle to get him back normal.
"I'm going to stick with him, encourage him and make sure that he doesn't give up.''
Last season, the pair combined for nearly 1,100 receiving yards. If Knox hadn't been injured, he'd likely be right next to Hester at OTAs. They would both be reaping the benefits of an upgraded receiving corps and a new offensive coordinator.
Instead, Knox is focused on the long, arduous and quite often boring process of rehabilitation, and he appreciates Hester's backing throughout.
"Devin has done a great job of keeping me positive," Knox said. "He has been more worried about my health than if or when I am going to return to the field. That means a lot to me -- that he is more concerned about my health than when I am going to play again."
As cheesy as it sounds, football players forge a real bond when playing together game in and game out. The bond between Hester and Knox is still important for the two players to have the year they're both hoping for.