Anthony Miller had one of the better seasons a Chicago Bears rookie receiver has ever had in the Super Bowl era. He didn’t put up a ton of yards, but he did score seven touchdowns. Hopefully just a preview of how good he can be in the future. What makes his accomplishment that much more impressive is the fact he did it while playing injured.

Early on in the season, it became apparent that Miller had dislocated his left shoulder. This resulted in a torn labrum. Rather than have it surgically repaired, which would’ve cost him the rest of the year, the receiver gutted it out for his team. A rather remarkable display of toughness and in keeping with his reputation out of Memphis.

It seems people didn’t even know the half of what he was actually going through. Most assumed he simply dislocated the shoulder, had it popped back in, and then played with occasional pain from then on. This sort of injury isn’t nearly that easy to deal with. Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune received all of the detail, many of them graphic in nature.

Anthony Miller dealt with several dislocations throughout the year

Miller explained that once the injury happened, there was no way to actually fix it without surgery. All the Bears doctors could do was pop it back into place and hope it didn’t happen again. Well, it did happen again. Several times, in fact. It got so bad at times that Miller couldn’t do anything as common as run hard without fear of the arm jarring loose.

“That he played his first year with an injured left shoulder he says painfully dislocated “maybe five or six times” makes Miller believe there’s more to come with the Bears. He had surgery to repair the torn labrum in January, and the rehab hasn’t dulled the confidence the Bears coaches embraced last season…

…Chicago hasn’t seen how I can play yet. Every time I tried to stiff arm, it would come out, or if I ran kind of crazy, it would come out. Really I was playing games with like one arm, making it happen. This year I’ve got two, so watch out.”

Over the first 10 games of the season, Miller caught 29 passes for 398 yards and five touchdowns. Then over the remaining seven, he caught seven passes for 59 yards and two touchdowns. It was obvious that something was wrong. Most assumed it was Miller hitting his “rookie wall” as can sometimes be the case.

Seeing what he was going through at that time? It’s far easier to understand why his effectiveness took such a dip. People can only accomplish so much when they’re in constant pain. So what will Miller do going into 2019 when the pain is gone? He made his mission clear enough.

“Last year, you guys said, ‘Could I get six touchdowns?’ And I was telling you it was too low, and I got seven. So I’m telling you 12 this time. Hopefully I can get over that.

“Don’t doubt me on that. I’ve got two arms now.”

A scary thought for all those defenders he torched with just one.

Erik Lambert
Educated to be a writer at the prestigious Columbia College in Chicago, Erik has spent the past 10 years covering the Bears.