Chicago Bears 2011 Position Battles: Wide Receiver

The wide receivers for the Chicago Bears will put up better numbers with their familiarity in year 2 of the Martzfense and with better offensive line play.  If Jay Cutler is kept upright more than last year expect a jump across the board, statistically, from the wide outs.  The Bears have kept five WRs the last few years, but early odds have them leaning towards carrying a sixth.  As of today the Bears have 10 on the roster, so unemployment for some is looming.

I think it's safe to assume that Devin Hester, Earl Bennett, and Johnny Knox are locks for the roster.  I've called this a make or break year for Knox, and I think the Bears brass are happy with the way he's handled his demotion.  He came into camp in the best shape of his life, and he's been working hard in camp.  In my opinion the arrow is pointing up on his career.  Bennett isn't the flashiest player, but he gets results.  And Hester is Hester and he's ridiculous.  I also think Sam Hurd is a lock to make the final 53 because of his special teams prowess.  The Bears need the receivers near the bottom of the depth chart to excel on special teams, and that's Hurd's niche.

Notice I'm not counting Roy Williams as a lock...  He hasn't stood out in camp, nor in the two preseason games.  If (and this is a big if), but if Williams dosen't maintain his starting status, I think he'll be cut.  No point having a diva-like wide out on the roster if he's on the bench.  The Bears gave him a modest contract, so springing him wouldn't affect the bottom line, but keeping him around to work his way into game speed and shape could be a detriment to the morale of the team. 

A quick tangent...  I wasn't a huge proponent of finding a big receiver, in fact I think size at receiver is overrated, especially in an offense that is about quickness, technique, and timing.  That's not to say all things equal in the quickness and technique aspects that I would prefer a 6'4" guy over a 5'10" guy, but you get the point. 

I think undrafted Dane Sanzenbacher has the inside track at the final 53.  He's running with the one's at the slot receiver on occasion and his skill set is a fit for the Mike Martz offense.  If Dave Toub can utilize him on special teams that'll help his cause.  Another reason I think the Bears will find a way to make him stick is that if hey expose him to the waiver wire I can see him being scooped up. 

I think the Bears would like to keep Kris Adams (check out my interview with Adams) and/or Onrea Jones around on the practice squad.  Adams is younger, 23 to 27, and may have more potential.  A year on the p.s. and in an NFL weight room will do him good.

Former CFLer Andy Fantuz has been an invisible man on all the training camp reports.  I'm not sure if that's because the beat reporters only have enough time to hype one unlikely receiver at a time, but it dosen't look good for his roster prospects.  He's practice squad eligible, but with his CFL success he may go back there.

Jimmy Young's also in camp, and if anyone can fill us in on him that would be great.  He's been more invisible than Fantuz.  At least one draft publication had him listed as a possible 4th round pick.

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