Johnny Knox refutes trade rumors
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- Chicago Bears receiver Johnny Knox quashed rumors Thursday that he was seeking a trade as the result of a demotion earlier in camp in favor of free agent acquisition Roy Williams.
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"No, not at all. I'm a Bear, and I want to stay a Bear," Knox said. "I didn't say anything about wanting to be traded. I got drafted here. I want to finish here, and I do not want to be traded."
Knox started all 16 games last season in Mike Martz's system and worked with the coach earlier in the offseason, gaining a significant amount of experience with some of the more nuances of the scheme.
So the team's decision to start off with Williams at the No. 1 "X" spot over Knox came as somewhat of a surprise earlier in training camp. Knox indicated his focus was on winning back his job. But even if that didn't transpire, he wasn't looking for a trade.
Bears coach Lovie Smith considers Knox a valuable part of the team's offense.
"I think it's obvious the way we feel about Johnny," Smith said. "Johnny is a big part of what we're going to do. You guys are making a story out of it. That's not a story. We're a little early to start running somebody out of town or putting someone up top or anything like that. We're not there yet."
Responding to a report that Knox could seek a trade in light of the demotion, Bears receivers coach Darryl Drake launched into an expletive-filled tirade while sitting on a golf cart outside the cafeteria at Olivet Nazarene University.
"Johnny Knox never said one word [about wanting a trade]," Drake said. "Nothing came out of his mouth. Johnny Knox texted me this morning, wondering where this [expletive] comes from. I'm going to tell you right now, if you guys keep making stuff up and bringing this stuff up, you're going to deal with me. That ain't going to be real nice. That ain't going to be real positive."
Earlier Thursday, Knox's agent Marc Lillibridge made similar remarks, adding that his client aimed to turn the demotion into a positive experience.
"Johnny Knox never once mentioned anything to me about wanting to be traded," Lillibridge said. "He wants to be a Bear. He's eager to compete for playing time and has a ton of respect for Roy Williams. Johnny is hoping to pick up a few things from Roy as he continues to grow as a receiver."
Martz and Drake both explained to Knox that he needs to improve every aspect of his game, from the work on the field, to the X's and O's on the black board and in meeting rooms.
Martz attributed Knox's inconsistency to youth.
"He just is still learning to play and adjust and do the things that we ask him to do," Martz said. "He's very young."
Knox, meanwhile, maintained he's always wanted to remain a Bear.
"Things have been going around, [where people are] saying I've been frustrated and stuff like that," Knox said. "I saw it coming. I've just got to keep playing and use all this as motivation to get better. This is already behind me."
Jeff Dickerson and Michael C. Wright cover the Bears for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.