By TPR Staff

When Chicago Bears wide receiver Johnny Knox suffered a horrifying injury to vertebrae in his back last December, many anticipated that this would happen. But Bears fans were optimistic that Knox might be ready to go by the time the 2012 NFL season kicked off. If his appearance in organized team activities this morning were any indication, that just might be a pipe dream as he seems destined for the injured reserve list.

Very underweight and acknowledging to reporters that he may miss the entire season, Knox was still in high spirits and optimistic as he addressed questions from the media.

‘‘It could happen, but I’m staying optimistic. My main focus is in the weight room. I’m not in a rush. This is my spine, the core of my body I’m dealing with. It’s not my knee, ankle or shoulder. I’m taking my time. I’m doing great; I’m feeling a lot better from Day 1. I’m getting stronger. Working on some things to get stronger in my lower body and my back. Most importantly, mentally, too.’’

He also told the media that he lost around thirty pounds after the surgery repaired his vertebrae and that he has been able to put back on about ten since being cleared to hit the weight room again.

Well on his way to a 1,000 yard season before the injury took his final two and a half games, Knox looked to be a legit #2 wide receiver going forward. And with the team adding Brandon marshall in the offseason, quarterback Jay Cutler had to be licking his chops at his receiving options. But with Knox out, how does the team replace his team-leading 727 yards receiving this year?

Brandon Marshall seems to be the obvious answer, but he’s such a volatile guy that you never know what you’re going to get with him. He seems to be in trouble off the field every other week and has been labeled as a “low-effort” guy in the past, even though early reports out of OTA’s is that he is showing leadership and doing all the right things. But he was obviously brought in to be the #1 threat in the receiving game. Who will be the new #2 if Knox is indeed out?

Devin Hester has never really proven himself to be anything other than an amazing special teams threat. ANother lackluster year on the receiving end has many turning their nose up at the idea of him getting more reps. Roy Williams looked at times like he was on the right course to getting his career back on track at times, but the team decided not to bring him back after his one-year deal expired. So it appears that Alshon Jeffery has his opportunity early to make some noise.

Hyped as one of the best receivers in college football in 2010, his game suffered in 2011 due to poor quarterback play and work ethic concerns as he was said to struggled with weight problems. With falling to the second round of the draft and being selected by a team that already has a #1 guy, there is no pressure for Jeffery to be “the man” from day one. He has all the talent and ability to do so, but this way he can ease his way in and be an impact player opposite Brandon Marshall.

It hurts to lose Johnny Knox, but Bears fans should be excited at the thought of seeing a Marshall/Jeffery duo in 2012. I know Jay Cutler sure is.

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