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Demoted Johnny Knox makes big impact

Updated: October 19, 2011 3:07AM

No matter where he is on the Bears’ depth chart at wide
receiver, Johnny Knox finds a way to make an impact.

Supplanted by Roy Williams as the Bears’ No. 1 split end, Knox still made the his presence felt, with a 70-yard kickoff return in the first quarter of the Bears’ 10-3 victory over the Buffalo Bills Saturday night at Soldier Field.

‘‘I know what I need to do — just handle my business on the field and that’s what I came to do,’’ Knox said. ‘‘I’m just trying to make the best of it and make plays when I can.’’

Knox also produced in the Bears’ sluggish passing game with an 11-yard reception from Caleb Hanie that led to Hanie’s four-yard touchdown run that gave the Bears a 7-3 lead in the second quarter.

Injury update

Defensive end Corey Wootton suffered a knee injury on the opening kickoff but was walking under his own power after the game.

Cornerback Zack Bowman suffered a head injury when he broke up a pass intended for Paul Hubbard with a crushing hit. Defensive tackle Marcus Harrison suffered a shoulder injury.

‘‘Don’t know the extent of the injuries right now,’’ coach Lovie Smith said after the game.

Up and down night

Hanie was sacked by Shawne Merriman on his first two pass attempts and was 3-for-7 for 32 yards and a 56.8 rating. But at least he survived.

Hanie was injured in last year’s preseason opener, which ended up costing him his backup job to Todd Collins.

Hanie led the Bears on their lone touchdown drive. He threw the 11-yard pass to Knox and scored the touchdown by scrambling up the middle on third-and-goal from the 4-yard line.

‘‘It’s kind of middle-of-the-road performance for me,’’ Hanie said. ‘‘We had a good drive there. But I missed a couple of throws I’d like to have back. Just a little bit off.’’

Evaluation time

Though new rules allow teams to kickoff from the 35-yard line instead of the 30 this season, the Bears elected to kickoff from the 30 anyway — to make sure their kickoff coverage units got some legitimate work in.

‘‘Robbie Gould … we can put it on the 35 and he can kick it out each time,’’ Smith said. ‘‘We’re not really getting a good evaluation of what we can do coverage-wise on some of our players. That’s what we were trying to do with it.’’

Grass makes the cut

A week after the Bears had their Family Fest cancelled because of the playing surface at Soldier Field, there were no problems Saturday night.

‘‘I didn’t have any issues with it,’’ Hanie said. ‘‘The receivers looked fast ad smooth out of their cuts. I didn’t hear anybody say anything bad about it.’’

Bell strikes again

Running back Kahlil Bell, who had a 72-yard run on his first NFL carry in 2009, keeps making the most of his limited opportunities. Playing against reserves in the second half, Bell led the Bears in rushing with 73 yards on 13 carries, and added 46 yards receiving on two screen passes.

Hurd’s takeaway

Sam Hurd, a special teams standout with the Dallas Cowboys before signing with the Bears, acclimated himself pretty quickly to the Bears special teams by stripping the Bills’ Marcus Easley on a kickoff return, with Craig Steltz recovering. But the play was nullified by an illegal formation, called on Hurd, that was protested vehemently by special teams coach Dave Toub, to no avail.

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