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updated: 8/13/2011 11:41 PM

Bears' Smith still counting on Knox

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Even though he has been replaced by Roy Williams in the starting lineup, Johnny Knox is still a vital part of the Bears' offense -- and of the special teams.

"I think it's fairly obvious how we feel about Johnny," coach Lovie Smith said. "Johnny is a big part of what we're going to do. You guys are making a story out of that. That's no story. We have a starting rotation. We have to put out a depth chart. We brought Roy Williams in here; Roy's a good football player."

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The key word is "good."

Williams is coming off three undistinguished seasons with the Cowboys. Knox, who returned a kickoff 70 yards Saturday night in the preseason opener, led the Bears in receiving yardage last season with 960 -- 399 more than the next-best total on the club.

"All guys will get reps and prove where they belong, whether they're going to dress on game day, whether they're going to be in the starting lineup," Smith said. "It's that way for Johnny and everyone else. You have to start off somewhere. It's no more than that. 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. This is just a part of the evaluation process."

The Bears are the ones who made it a story by moving a newcomer with a history of underachievement ahead of their leading receiver. Williams hasn't put up numbers better than Knox' 2010 season since 2006.

Knox also added a 13-yard punt return and had an 11-yard reception Saturday night in the Bears' 10-3 victory.

Bumps and bruises:

Second-year defensive end Corey Wootton suffered a knee injury on the opening kickoff that knocked him out for the remainder of the game.

Wootton is looking forward to increased playing time this season after seeing action in just six games as a rookie last season. Coaches believe he can be an effective pass rusher filling in behind starting defensive ends Julius Peppers and Israel Idonije.

"The biggest thing is focusing on your technique and getting after the passer," Wootton said. "That's what coach (Rod) Marinelli really loves. We're 'rushmen' -- that's what he calls us, so that's what I'm looking to do."

Defensive tackle Marcus Harrison suffered a shoulder injury late in the second quarter, and did not return. Cornerback Zack Bowman left in the third quarter with a head injury and did not return.

Good for now:

The new sod at Soldier Field appears in much better shape than eight days earlier when it was deemed unsafe for a scheduled practice that was canceled because of unsafe conditions.

"The field wasn't bad," wide receiver Roy Williams said. "I'm looking forward to November, December to see how it really is. But (Saturday) it wasn't bad."

Great expectations:

Rookie offensive tackle Gabe Carimi moved into the starting lineup in the first week of training camp, as almost everyone who watched the Bears' offensive line play last season, expected. But Carimi is far from satisfied.

"I have high expectations for myself," he said, "and I always want to do better than what other people think I should."

Offensive line coach Mike Tice has already referred to Carimi as an "elite" run blocker, but player and coach both know his pass blocking must improve.

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