Knox, Forte eye 1,000 club
By neil Hayesand Sean jensen email@example.com@suntimes.com
Neither Johnny Knox nor Matt Forte gets a bonus for topping 1,000 in receiving or rushing yards, respectively.
Their contracts don’t include anything that rewards them for reaching a desirable number for a receiver or running back.
But it’s a goal nonetheless, and both have a chance to get to 1,000 in the season finale against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.
Knox needs 40 yards receiving, while Forte needs 22 yards rushing.
“That was one of my goals coming into this year,” Knox said. “But, most important, I’m looking forward to getting a win because it’ll build momentum going into the playoffs.”
Forte has already topped 1,000 yards, getting 1,238 as a rookie.
But Forte gained just 929 yards last season when he was hampered by injuries, despite playing all 16 games.
Knox getting to 1,000 would be significant, at least for the Bears. They haven’t had a 1,000-yard receiver since Marty Booker had 1,189 in 2002.
A fifth-round pick in 2009, Knox had 527 receiving yards last year and made it to the Pro Bowl as a kickoff returner. This year, though, he was selected to start opposite Devin Hester, and he has emerged as quarterback Jay Cutler’s go-to target.
“It’s been real fun,” Knox said. “I’ve had ups and downs, but mainly it’s been positive things. I’m surrounded by a great group of leaders, and I’m just following them.
‘‘As a receiver, I’m just happy that we’re winning, and we’re all clicking and jelling as one.”
Bears receivers coach Darryl Drake said he has been pleased with Knox’s development.
“He’s got personal goals, and we want all our guys to reach their personal goals,” Drake said. “But the ultimate goal is for us to win games. And if that happens, it’s just icing on the cake for him.”
The Bears’ defense is sending three players to the Pro Bowl. But nobody wanted to pick one player as the unit’s MVP.
Lance Briggs, defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli and coach Lovie Smith all declined to pick a defensive MVP on Thursday.
“The defense,” Briggs said.
Asked to pick one person, he repeated “the defense,” then added, “that’s why we’re a good defense.”
Said Smith, “They’re all pretty good.
“Where would we be without any of them? We’ll let other people make that decision, but they’re all MVP in my mind.”
Cutler will have his work cut out for him Sunday.
Green Bay’s pass defense ranks fifth in yards allowed (199.3).
Opposing quarterbacks are averaging a league-low 69.1 passer rating against the Packers, who have 22 interceptions while allowing only 16 touchdown passes.
“They’re going to show you a lot of different looks and bring some pressure but they’re going to be smart about it,” Cutler said. “That’s why they’re tough.”
Receiver Earl Bennett sat out practice for the second straight day with a sore ankle, casting doubt on his availability for Sunday’s game against the Packers. Every other player on the roster participated fully.
For the Packers, cornerback Charles Woodson (toe), defensive end Ryan Pickett (ankle), safety Nick Collins (ribs) and linebacker Clay Matthews (shin) were limited for the Packers, while defensive end Cullen Jenkins (calf), guard Marshall Newhouse (back), cornerback Sam Shields (knees) and linebacker Frank Zombo (knee) did not practice.
Aaron Rodgers of the Packers has thrown three or more touchdowns 10 times in his career, the most in NFL history by a quarterback in his first three seasons, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
The previous record-holder was Kurt Warner of the St. Louis Rams.