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Johnny Knox fights to get back on field with Bears

Bears wide receiver Johnny Knox beats San Diego defense as he hauls touchdown pass third quarter Chicago Bears 31-20 wover

Bears wide receiver Johnny Knox beats the San Diego defense as he hauls in a touchdown pass in the third quarter of the Chicago Bears 31-20 win over the San Diego Chargers Sunday November 20, 2011 at Soldier Field. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: January 29, 2013 6:35AM

The Bears’ seasonlong search for a receiver to complement Brandon Marshall has been a colossal disappointment.

But largely overlooked as a possible solution in 2013 is Johnny Knox.

While potential is discussed with Alshon Jeffery, Devin Hester and Earl Bennett, Knox produced, catching 88 passes for 1,687 yards and seven touchdowns in 30 games during the 2010 and 2011 seasons.

“I know what I can do,” Knox told the Sun-Times. “I know what I can contribute out there on the field.

“I’m just another weapon when I can get back out there.”

When and where are the questions.

Knox admitted he’s “not quite there physically,” and he’ll be an unrestricted free agent in the offseason.

But he’s confident he’ll return to action in 2013, and he wants to do so in a Bears uniform.

“I would love to come back here,” Knox said. “The Bears gave me my first chance, my first opportunity, and I would love to remain here.”

A fifth-round pick, Knox earned a trip to the Pro Bowl as a returner during his rookie season in 2009. He shined in 2010 and 2011, until Dec. 18, 2011, when he was drilled in the back by Seattle Seahawks defensive end Anthony Hargrove at Soldier Field.

He required surgery, and he’s appreciated the Bears’ remaining supportive of him throughout his recovery.

His teammates have appreciated his long road back.

“You see what he has to do every day to get his body back in a position to play again,” Marshall said appreciatively.

Since they know his health better than anyone else, the Bears will have a decided edge in determining his market value. But the club has a hefty investment in Marshall ($9.3 million in 2013), and they’ll have to make a decision about Hester.

He enters the final year of his current deal, set to make $1.85 million with a cap number of $2.94 million.

If they trade or release him, the Bears would save about $2 million.

Bennett also has a healthy contract after signing a five-year, $18.5 million deal last December. But he’s already collected half of that, and his base salary for 2013 is $2.25 million.

For Knox, though, the focus is just getting healthy.

“I feel good, man,” Knox said. “That’s the ultimate goal, for me to get back on the field next season.

“I got short-term goals, and I’m just trying to do better than I did last week. I still got some work to do.”

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