Chicago Bears Countdown to Kickoff: 13 Days with Johnny Knox

Chicago Bears, Johnny Knox
Chicago Bears, Johnny Knox / Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
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Chicago Bears, Johnny Knox
Chicago Bears, Johnny Knox / Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Johnny Knox quickly earns a starting role with Chicago Bears

In his first professional season, Knox was able to provide immense value to the team as the lead kick returner. He took over the duty from fellow Abilene Christian product Danieal Manning, allowing all-star returner Devin Hester to focus on his roles on punt return and offense. As a rookie, Knox recorded nearly 1,000 yards on kick return, including a 102-yard touchdown. Knox was selected to the Pro Bowl following the season as a returner but was also able to make an offensive impact throughout the year to the tune of over 500 yards and five touchdowns.

By the following season, Knox had proven himself enough throughout his rookie campaign to earn a full-time receiver role. He joined a talented offense that included Jay Cutler, Matt Forte, Hester, Greg Olsen, and Olin Kreutz. In 16 games with the ones, Knox had an impressive breakout season, finishing the season again with five touchdowns, accompanied by a career-high 960 receiving yards.

Knox helped the team post an 11-5 record by the end of the season, a total strong enough for a first-place finish in the NFC North and the second seed in the conference. However, the team's success came largely from a terrific defensive unit led by Brian Urlacher, Julius Peppers, and Charles Tillman. Nonetheless, the Bears won their first postseason game, making it to the Conference Championship round before losing to the Green Bay Packers. In the playoffs, Knox totaled over 100 yards in two games.

After making it so far the year prior, many Chicago Bears players struggled the following season, and Knox was unfortunately no exception. After not being named a starter for the team's first game, Knox quickly regained his role in the offense, and he recorded over 700 yards through the first 13 games to start the year.