Bears running Matt Forte left Soldier Field without crutches and a brace.
A knee surgeon who works with the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Dodgers said that's a very encouraging sign for Forte and the Bears.
"When you have a valgus injury, where your knee goes inward, you are concerned about the MCL and the ACL," said Dr. Daniel Kharrazi, a surgeon at Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles who serves as a knee consultant with the Lakers, Dodgers and several other professional sports teams. "If all he has is an isolated MCL, he's pretty lucky."
From his home in Los Angeles, Dr. Kharrazi watched the jarring hit in the first quarter, when Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson drilled Forte squarely on his right knee with his left shoulder.
In 2009, Forte played through an MCL sprain, a reinforcement of his toughness. But this could be a different injury, the extent of which won't be fully known until doctors see the MRI results. One of the keys will be determining how much inflammation there is.
"The bottom line is, the MRI will determine the grade of the injury and, on average, how much time it will take for that to heal," Kharrazi said.
As he left the stadium, Forte said, "I'll be fine."
He'll undergo an MRI today, but the Sun-Times first reported that the expectation is that Forte suffered a medial collateral ligament sprain on his right knee.
"We just have to keep our fingers crossed," Bears coach Lovie Smith said, "and hopefully it's not that serious."
Some MRI sprains, though, could even take six to eight weeks, depending on other issues, Kharrazi said.
With a 7-5 record, though, the Bears can ill afford to lose Forte at all.
After a dominant performance against the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday Night Football, Forte has been the focal point of opposing defenses, oftentimes with a safety called upon to help slow him down.
In the three games before Sunday, Forte averaged 60 rushing yards and 18 receiving yards per game. When he left the game against the Chiefs, Forte had five carries for 12 yards.
Bears tight end Matt Spaeth lamented that he didn't block Johnson well enough on that fateful play.
"I felt horrible. He made a good play," Spaeth said of Johnson. "I missed him. I was coming around, tried hookin' him to get Matt outside, which we were supposed to do.
"But they were kind of all day jumping underneath and submarining and diving and different things all day. I don't think anybody feels worse about the Matt Forte injury than me because it was my guy."