Everyone who is a fan of the Chicago Bears remembers last season for many reasons, the epic collapse of a promising season with thumb-gate, the demise of Jerry Angelo, the ‘retirement’ of Mike Martz, but all Bears fans remember that regular season game against the Seattle Seahawks, when Johnny Knox was horrifically injured on a play trying to recover his own fumble. It was such a hard play to watch over and over again, but at the time my immediate thought was not “I wonder how long he will be out for”, it was more “I genuinely hope he can walk again after this”.
That was then, and this is now, Knox was placed as was widely accepted to be a given, on the training camp PUP list, not a problem unless his recovery takes him into the regular season and the eventual it would be assumed IR list. Under rookie GM Phil Emery, the Bears have made massive strides in a short space of time, in their talent level at the wide receiver position. Trading two third round picks to the Miami Dolphins for WR Brandon Marshall on day one of this years free agency, gave the Bears the number 1 receiver that they have searched for at least the last 20 years, then in round two of the 2012 NFL Draft the Bears went and selected WR Alshon Jeffrey out of South Carolina, in order to gain another tall go up and get it receiver that Jay Cutler has been waiting for ever since the day he was traded for in the deal with the Denver Broncos.
Knox is never going to offer what Jeffery and Marshall can so lets look at the rest of the supporting cast, I have already pegged Earl Bennett for a big season, Cutler trusts his hands (especially on third downs), they only played 5 games together last season but the chemistry was there for all to see, he will operate in my opinion out of the slot and could exceed 1000 yards receiving.
Devin Hester, the hype has begun yet again, the promise that he will finally be utilized in the correct manner, the “Hester package” has been the source of much fan conversation and rumor mongering, the difference being I actually buy it this year, I think OC Mike Tice is an astute chap, and will do his damndest to make sure Hester is given the ball in open field situations were he can make the defenders miss.
Someone I thought had no hope of making the roster Dane Sanzenbacher, seems to be having a solid camp, and is showing progression, good for the Bears, but bad for Knox.
Next we have our Tight Ends, who actually figure to do something in this offense, a far cry from the archaic Martz era, expect this unit to be more than just statues and bodies making up the numbers, Matt Spaeth and Kellen Davis should put up relatively solid numbers and the Bears have drafted a real live-wire in Evan Rodriguez, who has been good thus far in training camp.
With all this going on, given the freak nature of his injury, I do fear for Knox his time could be coming to an end, couple this with my opinion that he runs sloppy routes, and has terrible alligator hands at times, the season of offensive good will and hope of explosive plays, could very well render Knox an obsolete cog in a new machine, kind of like your appendix, it once had a use but now it is just kind of there, not really doing anything.
Look I am rooting for the guy to get fit and make his money and retire a wealthy man, just not at the expense of my teams cap space (this is currently his contract year), especially if he doesn’t play this season, who knows what his frame of mind carrying the ball into big contacts will be.
My point is this, if Knox has played his final game for the Bears already, I thank him and wish him every success, and I do coincidently feel the Bears will give him, injury permitting, every opportunity get a place back on this roster, but I am certainly not going to be surprised if in a cutthroat industry such as the NFL Johnny Knox hits free agency, and subsequently a new team, next offseason.