Eddie Royal was thrilled to return to practice Wednesday—even on a limited basis—for the first time since suffering a knee injury Nov. 1 in a loss to the Vikings.
"It felt great," said the Bears receiver, who has sat out the last five games. "You miss being in the huddle, part of the team, being one of the guys. It's hard being on the sideline just watching it all and it was just great to be back out there."
Royal signed with the Bears in March after spending his first seven NFL seasons with the Broncos (2008-11) and Chargers (2012-14). The 5-10, 185-pounder caught 62 passes for 778 yards and seven touchdowns last year in San Diego.
Eddie Royal has appeared in six of 12 games, catching 26 passes.
"Obviously he's a guy we thought highly of to go out and sign him in free agency," said coach John Fox. "He started the season in pretty good shape and then he's been banged up with the knee sprain. But he actually looked pretty good today in practice."
Royal was expected to serve as the Bears' primary slot receiver this year. But he was slowed by hip and ankle injuries early in the season before hurting his knee against the Vikings. He has appeared in six of 12 games, catching 26 passes for 171 yards and 1 TD.
"It's just been one of those years," Royal said. "It comes with it. It's football. It's a physical game and sometimes things happen that you can't control and I just tried to stay positive and help the guys out as much as I could with everything that I knew about the game and tried to be there for them. Now I'm just happy to be back."
Royal has been fairly durable throughout his career, having played in at least 14 games in five of his seven seasons. As you'd expect, sitting out for more than a month has been unbearable for the receiver.
"It felt like forever, just not being able to be out there to help them," Royal said. "Sundays were the worst just because, being so competitive, you want to be out there helping. But it's great to be back on the field and I'm excited about this week."
Royal declined to speculate about his chances of playing Sunday when the Bears host the Washington Redskins at Soldier Field.
"I don't know," Royal said. "We'll see how tomorrow goes. I'm just kind of taking it one day at a time. Today was a good start, just moving around, doing the different cuts, running routes and catching passes. It was a good day."
In other injury news, receiver Marquess Wilson (foot), outside linebacker Pernell McPhee (knee) and safety Antrel Rolle (knee) did not practice Wednesday.
In addition to Royal, tight end Zach Miller (rib), outside linebacker Sam Acho (shoulder), linebacker Shea McClellin (ankle) and cornerback Tracy Porter (ankle) were limited.