Chicago Bear cornerback Leslie Frazier, who suffered a major knee injury in the second quarter of Super Bowl XX, says he may return to action by the middle of next season.
Frazier, who was injured during a punt return, underwent reconstructive knee surgery immediately after Chicago's Super Bowl victory. The Bears had said they did not expect Frazier back for the 1986 season.
"Initially, they told me it would take eight to 10 months before I would be running," Frazier said. "Right now, I'm a little bit ahead of schedule, so I'm just trying to wait and see.
"Hopefully, by September I'll be able to run again, and maybe by October or November, maybe I'll be in a uniform."
Frazier, 27, a five-year veteran of the Bears, said he is concerned about rushing himself, especially when it gets closer to the start of the season.
"You have to be a little bit careful about that," he said. "You don't want to do too much too fast, because it's not very good with the type of injury I have. There is a framework to work in and you have to stay in that framework in order to get the best results.
"I hope to be able to play five or six more years. To jeopardize it for one season would not be a very smart thing to do."
The Bears are looking at defensive backs for the April 29 college draft because they do not expect Frazier to return next season. Frazier said he thinks the team will allow him to play if he can prove he is ready.
"Knowing what I have done in the past, I would think they would be receptive," Frazier said. "I'm sure they want me to come back as soon and as well as I can. The primary objective is not only to come back ahead of schedule, but to come back at full strength and hopefully better than before."
Frazier said the Bears' defense will be strong again next year despite the departure of defensive coordinator and spiritual leader Buddy Ryan, who accepted the head coaching job of the Philadelphia Eagles.
"I was happy in a way and sad in a lot of other ways (about Ryan's departure)," he said. "I was happy he was able to reach a goal of his to be a head coach in the NFL. But he will be missed.
"Still, I think we will have another outstanding season because the talent is there. We just have to put the new defensive concept into practice."