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updated: 11/23/2010 10:10 PM

Knox No. 1 in Bears' receiver-by-committee attack

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  • Johnny Knox leads the Bears with 672 receiving yards this season.

       Johnny Knox leads the Bears with 672 receiving yards this season.
    STEVE LUNDY | Staff Photographer

 
 

Spraying to all fields, even though it's not baseball season:

&bul;For years the Bears have downplayed the idea of a No. 1 receiver, preferring a passing attack by committee with any of three or four players capable of being the leading receiver in any particular game, including tight end Greg Olsen or running back Matt Forte.

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Just last week general manager Jerry Angelo revisited the topic.

"The No. 1 receiver is overrated," Angelo said. "We're a receiver by committee and that's a good thing because anybody on any given game could be the guy. So we've done a good job of getting all the guys integrated into the offense."

The share-the-wealth, spread-the-ball-around philosophy is working fairly well for the Bears, with five players having between 27 and 38 receptions.

Coach Lovie Smith has insisted for at least two years that Devin Hester is a legitimate No. 1 NFL receiver. And, while Hester sometimes does draw No. 1-type attention from opposing defenses, he is not the team's No. 1 receiver.

Johnny Knox is.

Knox has quietly piled up 672 receiving yards this season, more than twice as many as any other Bear. That alone makes him the clear-cut top dog.

His 18.2 yards per catch rank eighth in the NFL among players with 20 or more receptions, and he's on pace to finish with 1,075 yards, which would make him the first Bear to crack 1,000 since Marty Booker had 1,189 in 2002.

Hester has re-established himself as the NFL's best return man but is on pace to finish with just 454 receiving yards.

&bul;Knox and Earl Bennett should be the Bears' starters at wide receiver, which would allow Hester to continue his focus on returning punts and kickoffs while also getting significant playing time in the offense as the No. 3 wide receiver or maybe even get Devin Aromashodu back in the mix.

Knox and Bennett are the perfect complements to each other. Knox has the speed and big-play ability to get deep, while Bennett possesses the size, strength and toughness to work underneath, go over the middle and take the abuse that comes with that role.

That makes him unique among Bears wideouts and gives the offense a dimension it doesn't have without him. After a slow start, Bennett has 28 catches, tied for third on the team with Olsen and Hester.

&bul;How about some Pro Bowl love for Corey Graham? The Bears' fifth-round pick in 2007 out of New Hampshire started nine games at cornerback in 2008 but was passed on the depth chart last year by Zack Bowman and now also is behind Tim Jennings.

But Graham has become an outstanding special-teams player. He was second to Tim Shaw last year with 23 tackles and this season has 16, all solos almost twice as many as the next teammate, Garrett Wolfe, who has 9 solos (13 total).

According to the NFL statistics, which vary slightly from the Bears' version, Graham is tied with the Detroit's John Wendling for the league lead with 14 special-teams tackles. But Graham isn't among the top five vote-getters in Pro Bowl balloting at NFL.com.

&bul;Now that the Minnesota Vikings have told Brad Childress to take his playbook and go home, they should show Brett Favre the door.

The future Hall of Famer stuck around a year too long. He's brutal. Any quarterback who can't put points on the board with Adrian Peterson running the ball and Percy Harvin and Visanthe Shiancoe catching it doesn't deserve to start.

And Favre is too self-involved to be a backup and a mentor to his replacement.

&bul;You could build a pretty strong fantasy team this year utilizing only ex-Bears.

Start with Denver wide receiver Brandon Lloyd, who leads the NFL with 1,046 yards, is averaging 19.4 yards per catch and has 7 touchdowns.

Lloyd's quarterback, Kyle Orton, is No. 3 in the NFL with 3,023 passing yards with 17 touchdowns and just 6 interceptions. His 94.5 passer rating is 10th in the NFL and 10.3 points higher than Jay Cutler's.

At running back, Cincinnati's Cedric Benson has 747 yards and 4 touchdowns, and Kansas City's Thomas Jones has 644 yards with 5 scores.

rlegere@dailyherald.com

&bul;Follow Bob LeGere's Bears reports via Twitter@BobLeGere. Check out his blog, Bear Essentials, at DailyHerald.com.

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