Chicago Bears: Johnny Knox

Bears pick Ka'Deem Carey in 4th

May, 10, 2014
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videoLAKE FOREST, Ill. – The pick: Ka’Deem Carey, running back, Arizona

My take: General manager Phil Emery said before the draft the Bears planned to add more competition at running back behind starter Matt Forte after the team released veteran Michael Bush in March. Carey rushed for 3,814 yards and 42 touchdowns over the last two years at Arizona. His 1,885 yards on the ground last season ranked third nationally.

[+] EnlargeKa'Deem Carey
Crystal LoGiudice/USA TODAY SportsArizona's Ka'Deem Carey rushed for 3,814 yards and 42 touchdowns over the last two years at Arizona.
Tailbacks in Marc Trestman’s offense must have the ability to catch the football. Carey hauled in 26 passes for 173 yards and one touchdown in 2013.

Carey set the Pac-12 and Arizona single-game record with 366 rushing yards versus Colorado.

This appears to be a sold pick from a production standpoint.

Character concern: Carey reportedly had issues off-the-field in college. The running back was charged with disorderly conduct and assault for allegedly pushing his pregnant ex-girlfriend to the floor and slamming her hand in a door. The charges were eventually dropped. These are serious accusations.

Under Emery, the Bears have not been afraid to draft players with questionable character. The belief is that sufficient leadership and stability exists in the building to handle potential problem players.

Carey will be afforded every opportunity to prove he is not a clone of 2012 fourth-round pick Evan Rodriguez, who the Bears released after his rookie year following multiple run-ins with the law. Rodriguez also had problems throughout his college career.

What’s next: Bears next pick is at No. 156 overall in the 5th round. The Bears are a prime example that quality players can be found on the third day of the draft. Chicago struck gold in the fifth round last year when they selected offensive tackle Jordan Mills out of Louisiana Tech. Mills went on to start all 16 games before breaking his foot in pregame warm-ups before the Bears’ Week 17 battle at Soldier Field.

Retired wide receiver Johnny Knox, New York Giants cornerback Zack Bowman and Buffalo Bills cornerback Corey Graham are also former fifth-round picks of the Bears who went on to have productive NFL careers.

The Bears could look to add a linebacker or safety with their next choice. Both remain areas of need.

Rookie review: RT Jordan Mills

February, 6, 2014
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Stats: Selected by the Bears in the fifth-round of the 2013 NFL draft out of Louisiana Tech, Mills started all 16 games at right tackle before leaving the regular-season finale against the Green Bay Packers in the first quarter with a foot injury that required offseason surgery. Mills was part of a revamped Bears offensive line that surrendered 30 sacks (the Bears surrendered 44 sacks in 2012) and helped pave the way for Matt Forte to run for a career-high 1,339 yards and nine touchdowns.

2013 role: Mills stood out on draft weekend when he enthusiastically declared that he expected to contribute as a rookie. He began training camp behind veteran J’Marcus Webb at right tackle, but in a short period of time he moved past Webb on the depth chart. Mills never looked back while the Bears eventually cut Webb at the end of the preseason. Mills fractured the fifth metatarsal in his left foot in Week 17 and underwent surgery in January. If his rehab goes as expected, Mills should return to the field during OTAs sometime in May.

The good: Mills is friendly, outgoing and professional off the field, but he plays with a nasty streak. Mills got into it with Minnesota Vikings Pro Bowl defensive end Jared Allen after the whistle in a game the Bears eventually lost in overtime in the Metrodome. Why does that matter? Because in three full seasons, Webb never went at anybody like that, not even Allen, who certainly had it coming after he ended ex-Bears guard Lance Louis’ season in 2012 with a cheap shot to the knees on a blindside block following an interception. Mills cares. He takes it personal. That's the type of attitude the Bears want from their offensive linemen. Mills never played himself out of the starting lineup. That’s important to note when evaluating his rookie season. It’s not as if the Bears struggled on offense. They ranked sixth in points scored per game (24.8) and eighth in total offense (381.8). If Mills had been a liability at right tackle, he would have been replaced.

The bad: Mills certainly wasn’t flawless. He made his share of mistakes. Several websites rated him as the Bears' worst offensive lineman in 2013. Some of those struggles can be attributed to the fact that Mills started all 16 games as a rookie. He also experienced a large jump in competition, going from a WAC school (Louisiana Tech) to the NFL. Mills definitely needs to work on his body and hit the weight room. Unfortunately, that kind of offseason work will have to wait until Mills recovers from the foot surgery. That is disappointing.

Looking ahead: Mills would really benefit from being able to participate in some of the offseason program before the team breaks until the beginning of training camp. If Mills can be physically ready to go when the club reports to Bourbonnais, Ill., in late July, there is no reason he cannot start the entire upcoming season at right tackle. Mills also gives the Bears the flexibility to move him to guard in the future, if the organization ultimately decides that Kyle Long’s immense talents are better suited at tackle. But at this point, Mills appears to have been a solid selection by the Bears in the fifth round, easily the club’s best fifth-round choice since Johnny Knox in 2009.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte missed Tuesday's session of organized team activities along with cornerback Tim Jennings, as both had a prior commitment with USO Illinois in Germany, where they visited troops at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.

Forte and Jennings visited Germany as part of the USO Illinois Pro Tour along with former Bears receiver Johnny Knox.

(Read full post)

Rookie Wilson has room to grow

May, 11, 2013
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LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- From a pure production standpoint, the Chicago Bears got a steal in the seventh round when they drafted former Washington State wide receiver Marquess Wilson -- the school’s all-time leader in receiving yards (3,207), despite appearing in just 33 games.

However, the rookie receiver comes with considerable baggage after he quit the team with three weeks to go in the season due to a falling out with Cougars head coach Mike Leach, an episode that no doubt contributed to Wilson falling so far in the draft.

But Bears head coach Marc Trestman said Saturday that Wilson arrived in Chicago this week with a clean slate.

“He’s been great,” Trestman said. “He started at zero here with everything. We’ve talk it through. We know all the issues, which are very minimal. He’s a young guy and he’s moved forward.

“I thought he was better on Saturday than he was on Friday. He was a little leg weary from the travel, and I thought he stepped up today and was a little more involved. He had his feet underneath him. He had his balance, so you could see his foot movement and his skill level.”

One area Wilson will need to work on is his body. Although he stands 6-foot-4, Wilson is listed at just 184 pounds. For comparison’s sake, ex-Bears wideout Johnny Knox played at 185 pounds, and he was four inches shorter than Wilson.

“He’s 20 years old, so he has a lot of growing to do,” Trestman said. “Being around here and getting involved in our weight program over the next few months is certainly going to help him as well. He’s going to get stronger. He’ll get bigger and add more girth to him as he moves forward, I’m sure. And he’ll be around a place where he’ll be able to eat right.”

GM: Loss of Knox creates need at WR

February, 21, 2013
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INDIANAPOLIS -- Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery admitted Thursday at the NFL scouting combine the loss of receiver Johnny Knox places the club in the position of needing to add at the position.

"Anytime you lose a player of that quality, and that kind of speed, it does impact you," Emery said. "To say (it does) not would be silly."

(Read full post)

Ex-Bear Knox giving up football

February, 13, 2013
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CHICAGO -- Former Chicago Bears receiver Johnny Knox says he's giving up football.

Read the entire story.

Bears terminate contract of Knox

February, 12, 2013
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The Chicago Bears terminated the contract of receiver and former Pro Bowl returner Johnny Knox on Tuesday, the team announced.

Read the entire story.

Knox unsure if he'll play this season

October, 5, 2012
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LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears wide receiver Johnny Knox said on Friday he's unsure if the team plans to activate him from physically unable to perform (PUP) list before the end of the 2012 regular season.

"I haven't heard," Knox said. "The last thing I heard was that I was going on PUP back in training camp. That's the last thing I heard."

Knox is eligible to come off the PUP list after the team's bye week.

Read the entire story.

Bears rookie Hardin to IR

August, 26, 2012
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LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears placed rookie free safety Brandon Hardin on injured reserve and wide receiver Johnny Knox on the physically unable to perform list, plus released nine players Sunday.

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BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- With inevitable placement on the active physically-unable-to-perform list looming, Chicago Bears receiver Johnny Knox contends he's making progress in rehabilitation from back surgery, but admits "there's really no timetable" for a full recovery.

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Emery: Knox progressing; PUP call soon

July, 24, 2012
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BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery said receiver Johnny Knox is making "steady progress" in his return from a back injury, and the team will make a decision soon about whether to place him on the active Physically Unable to Perform list.

Read the entire story.

Bears' Knox 'taking it day by day'

June, 21, 2012
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CHICAGO -- Chicago Bears wide receiver Johnny Knox said there's still no timetable for a return to the football field as he continues his rehabilitation from surgery to stabilize a vertebra in his back.

Read the full story.
Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery provided updates Wednesday on the potential return of injured offensive tackle Gabe Carimi and receiver Johnny Knox during a conference call with the club's season-ticket holders.

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Lovie vague on WR Knox's return

March, 28, 2012
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Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith said Wednesday it's "a little early" to cast accurate predictions on the potential return for receiver Johnny Knox, who continues to rehabilitate from a serious back injury suffered in December.

Read the entire story.

Offseason position outlook: Receivers

February, 8, 2012
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Robert MeachemAP Photo/Gerald HerbertWith teammate Marques Colston due a big contract, the Saints' Robert Meachem could be a viable free agent option for the Bears.
This is the third installment of a 10-part series that reviews every Bears position group on offense and defense, while also taking a quick look at potential free agent targets and the top prospects in the upcoming NFL draft.

The fantasies recently shared over Twitter between Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler and Miami Dolphins receiver Brandon Marshall about a possible reunion surely sparked optimism about the club’s future at what’s been an underachieving position in recent years.

But don’t expect Chicago to make a move to land Marshall. That deal might be too difficult for the Bears to swing, but the team still plans this offseason to extend every effort to finally give Cutler -- who will have only one year left on his contract after the upcoming season -- the weapons he needs.

"I will say this: What is going to be targeted [are] good football players, producers, dynamic playmakers that can help this football team grow," new general manager Phil Emery said. "[We want to] help the players that are here, and surround them with more weapons, more people that can make plays, and help this football team in its march towards championships."

Considering the Bears' leader in receptions -- running back Matt Forte -- doesn't play the receiver position, it’s quite clear that’s where the team needs to upgrade with the "dynamic playmakers" that Emery discussed.

The team’s preference is to do that through the draft. But the severe talent deficiency at the position will likely force the Bears to attack the problem from multiple fronts, meaning the NFL draft in April and pro free agency a month before that.

The Bears are well positioned in terms of salary cap space to make moves, and new offensive coordinator Mike Tice has been vocal about the need to add a legitimate No. 1 receiver to properly execute the team’s new system. By adding more targets -- especially a No. 1 that always has to be accounted for in coverage -- the Bears would be able to line up players such as Earl Bennett and Devin Hester in different spots on the field to take advantage of one-on-one matchups.

“We do need a [receiver] that when he gets one-on-one coverage, he has to win way more than he loses,” Tice said. “Moving forward, we’re going to evaluate the guys we have and how we’ve used them in the past. Our scouting department will do a great job -- whether it’s our pro personnel department or college scouting department -- in finding that guy or guys that are going to be able to let us implement this system, this process.”

THE CURRENT ROSTER


[+] EnlargeJohnny Knox
Rob Grabowski/US PresswireJohnny Knox was second in the NFL with 19.6 yards per catch.
Johnny Knox: Finished the 2011 season ranked second in the NFL in yards per catch (19.6 yards), led the team in receiving yards (727) and was tied for second in receptions. But a devastating back injury on Dec. 18 casts doubt on Knox’s potential availability for 2012. Having undergone a vertebral fusion procedure, Knox will have to wear a back brace until mid-March, and his timeline for recovery could extend beyond six months, according to multiple sources.

Roy Williams: Williams came on toward the end of the season, and two of his three best performances of the year came over the last two games in which he caught a combined 10 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown. Early indications pointed to the Bears bringing Williams -- an unrestricted free agent -- back in 2012 with a cap-friendly contract. But the regime change with Emery now as the GM could change the team’s thinking. Williams believes he deserves at least an opportunity to go to training camp to compete for a spot.

Dane Sanzenbacher: An undrafted rookie, Sanzenbacher started off strong by catching 19 passes over the first seven games for three touchdowns with Earl Bennett out of the lineup. Once Bennett returned, Sanzenbacher played six consecutive games with no catches from Nov. 7 to Dec. 11. Sanzenbacher’s promising rookie start was plagued by dropped passes (5). Depending on what the team does in free agency and the draft, Sanzenbacher could have a hard time making the 2012 roster.

Devin Hester: Nagging injuries limited Hester’s production on offense and in the return game. Over a three-game stretch from Oct. 10-23, Hester caught 14 passes only to finish with one reception over the next four weeks. Scheduled to earn $1.646 million (the salary includes escalators -- that likely haven’t been reached -- worth up to $3.554 million based on his production) Hester hasn’t yet developed into the receiver the Bears had hoped for. But an infusion of new talent at the position might change Hester’s role by putting him in the slot or other spots more, which might increase his production.

Earl Bennett: An internal-body injury suffered on Sept. 18 knocked Bennett out of the lineup for five games. But he returned Nov. 7 to put together three strong performances in Bears' victories (14 catches for 251 yards and a TD). Having developed strong chemistry with Cutler dating all the way back to college, Bennett watched his production dip dramatically after the quarterback suffered a thumb injury that knocked him out of the final six games. Still, Bennett remains the most dangerous of the team’s receiving threats, and was rewarded with a contract extension toward the end of the season.

Max Komar: Added to the Bears active roster on Dec. 19, and played in only one game on special teams against the Green Bay Packers on Christmas. Komar possesses some elusiveness, but could find a difficult time making the roster if he sticks around long enough to go to training camp.

Jonathan Haggerty: Signed to the practice squad on Dec. 20 and is considered a long shot to make the 2012 team.

Kevin Jurovich: Added to the practice squad on Dec. 21, but likely won’t make it to training camp with the team.

Bears free agents: Williams

POTENTIAL FREE AGENT TARGETS


Vincent Jackson, San Diego Chargers, unrestricted
Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints, unrestricted
Robert Meachem, New Orleans Saints, unrestricted

WHY MEACHEM MIGHT MAKE SENSE


MeachemDynamic playmakers such as Philadelphia’s DeSean Jackson, Buffalo’s Steve Johnson and Kansas City’s Dwayne Bowe likely won’t see the free agent market because of franchise tags or the sides working out new agreements. And it’s highly unlikely Vincent Jackson or Colston will either.

New Orleans is trying to work out an extension for quarterback Drew Brees, and once that’s done, it’s likely the Saints will turn their attention to Colston. So they’ll ultimately wind up having to part ways with Meachem. But don’t let Meachem’s production in 2011 (40 catches, 620 yards and 6 TDs) fool you. His lack of mega numbers stems in part from New Orleans’ spread-the-wealth system, and the fact he often became the clear-out man to open up things underneath for tight end Jimmy Graham.

Meachem’s explosive deep speed is part of the reason he became somewhat of a decoy. But he possesses the physical attributes to thrive in the right situation.

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