First before I get into this I obviously owe a big apology to my loyal readers. I’ve been dealing with some personal issues close to my family lately so my blog has been neglected for a lot longer than I ever anticipated. Apologies that there has been a severe lack of content since the end of the NFL Draft. I hope to continue to provide daily updates, but more importantly the coverage you’ll receive during the season should be the best on the web from any Chicago Bears blog out there. Continue to check back here and at Midway Illustrated for all the best Bears information you’ll find in any non commercially affiliated blog.
This past Wednesday the 17th of June the Chicago Bears wrapped up their organized team activities for the 2009 off-season program. The big news everyone seems to be asking about is the speculation on Brandon Marshall and Plaxico Burress becoming Chicago Bear players. The likelihood of Marshall seems almost none given the need to trade for him. However Plaxico Burress is one to keep on an eye on as we count down the day to Bourbannais.
This blog however is going to cover went is being reported out of the OTA practices at Halas Hall. Where is the team at, and what player have stood out.
First off the big question everyone wants to look at is the wide receiver position and who is looking to emerge opposite Devin Hester.
Cutting right to the chase among the rookies (I include Earl Bennett in the rookie category) the talk is of Johnny Knox and the type of player he is. Knox as we all know has the speed to be a game breaker in the NFL. You don’t run an electronically timed 4.32 40-yard-dash, and find teams talking about your other attributes.
However this is precisely what has happened with Johnny Knox, the buzz is starting to emerge about his hands and his speed and route running ability. Knox is starting to look the part and is producing at a level higher than Juaquin Iglesias after 15 practices.
Every media type that has been at OTAs and including offensive coordinator Ron Turner have raved about Knox as the star of the rookie class during OTAs. Turner said as much in his interview on ESPN 1000 on Thursday.
Me personally I loved what I saw of Knox at the combine and his production in college is something else that says he is more than just a track star in pads. I am officially tagging Knox as the sleeper of this draft class who may wind up being a major steal if he continues to produce and work at the level he has thus far.
Granted Knox is only a rookie and has a long ways to go but his talent is unmistakable and with the need for WRs on this roster he looks as though he’ll find a solid role on this team in 2009.
We can also take a little bit away from the development of Earl Bennett. Bennett has already found a solid majority of critics lined up in his corner after missing all of 2008. Bennett however has begun to step up and show the ability that earned him a draft spot in the third round. Bennett is at a level that most of us have come to expect from the second year man.
Sure Bennett is not going to take over for Brandon Loyd, or Mushin Muhammad’s production this year. But he’ll be a part of the team and should play well moving forward. Keep in mind both Loyd and Muhammad are established veterans who have played at a high level way before. To expect Bennett to match those savvy veterans is a stretch, but anything is possible.
Brandon Rideau who ran with the practice squad most of last year is another player who has shown up and been noticed in OTAs. Rideau is also player who is showing an ability to produce this off-season. He is quite possibly producing at a level higher than Johnny Knox and could be the number two man next to Hester.
What seems to the be consensus among the receivers is that they all realize there is an opportunity to step up and be players and producers in this offense. Expanding upon that point they realize that a lot of money and a lot of years in the NFL are riding on the chance to come in and be big time producers. The race is wide open behind Hester, arguably ahead of Hester and with Jay Cutler and Matt Forte here for the long term there is an extreme need for someone to complement two future perennial Pro Bowl players.