The Bears on Wednesday placed wide receiver Johnny Knox on the active physically unable to perform list as he continues to rehab from the gruesome back injury he sustained last year.
The move will allow Knox to return to training camp, or sometime during the preseason, whenever he is physically able to play. But if he remains on the list after the start of the regular season, he will have to sit out at least six weeks.
The move could be a mere formality and a diplomatic way of handling Knox’s inevitable exit from the team. Although blessed with exceptional speed — which he does not have at this point due to the injury and the slow, progressive recovery — Knox is undersized for an NFL receiver and has unsure hands in traffic. Too many times in his career he’s coughed up the ball when being hit from behind or on the side.
Considering he was not a draft choice of Phil Emery and given Emery’s apparent preference for bigger receivers — he brought in a pair of 6-foot-4 receivers this offseason in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery — Knox doesn’t figure to have much of a role in the offense even if he did return healthy this season. Devin Hester and Earl Bennett already are crowding the depth chart. Add to the fact that the team brought in kick returner Eric Weems and Knox really offers nothing to the team anymore.
Reports say that the team has no intention of releasing him, and they’re probably doing the smart thing to nurse him along and see if he has a miraculous recovery that leads to him regaining his past form.
But the Knox we once knew is probably gone for good, and the undersized, less explosive version will soon follow him out the door.