Comeback Story

Lyman on the road to recovery

From Kordell Stewart to Rex Grossman there were several hot topics during the Bears mini-camp. However, one of the biggest surprises of the weekend was the fact that <!--Default NodeId For Dustin Lyman is 722210,2003--><A HREF=[PlayerNode:722210]>Dustin Lyman</A> was practicing.

The tight end had major surgery in December to repair a ruptured graft that was used to reconstruct a torn ACL in his left knee during his junior season at Wake Forest.

Lyman was expected to miss seven to months, but was happy to be back sooner than expected.

"I feel better than I've felt the last three years actually," Lyman said. "I never thought that I would feel this good again after I had the surgery in college, but I think I've been playing three years on a knee that probably should have been worked on.

"I got the surgery out of the way and I feel great. I've been feeling great for a month now. Each week I get a little bit stronger, to the point now where I feel like I'm stronger than I've been in a long time."

After struggling to make an impact in his first two plus seasons with the Bears, Lyman started producing in the latter part of 2002. The third-round pick had his best game as a pro against Green Bay December 1st. In a 30-20 loss to the Packers he caught seven balls including his first two NFL touchdowns. It was also the game that he got hurt in.

"It was heartbreaking really," Lyman said. "It felt like a bad break because I had been working really hard to get an opportunity and I felt like I made the most of it.

"But I didn't spend much time worrying about it. I mean, what was done was done. I got hurt and I just wanted to make sure I came back strong and I've been working real hard."

The work has paid off in what in some sense is a minor medical miracle.

"In a lot of ways it is remarkable," said Dick Jauron. "I would be very surprised if we hadn't been tracking his progress, and through the whole thing our medical staff has been saying that he's doing remarkably well. He's coming along faster than any of us anticipated."

There was some concern that Lyman was doing too much too fast, but only the 6-4, 245-pounder knows that.

"I guess I probably am ahead of schedule, but I don't feel like I'm doing anything I shouldn't be doing," Lyman said. "I feel good. If it hurt to do anything I'm doing, I wouldn't be doing it. I feel great. I feel really strong out there."

Although, Lyman is ahead of schedule his knee will only get stronger by the time training camp starts on July 25.

The competition at the tight end position will be fierce. Desmond Clark is the starter with Lyman, John Gilmore and John Davis fighting for roster spots. The team has already said they could carry up to four tight ends.

Davis missed the three-day camp because he wasn't cleared medically due to back problems, which caused him to miss the final five games of the year.

Eager to start heading into his fourth season with the Bears, Lyman understands why the team went out and signed Clark.

"They had in their minds it was time to make a move," Lyman said. "They couldn't count on anyone to come off a major knee surgery and be a starter.

"Desmond's a good athlete, a great player and he was available. I'm not surprised they made the move. It's not like the end of the world for me because if I play well I'll still get my opportunities and you can never have enough good players."

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