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Bears’ Johnny Knox will see plenty of action

Johnny Knox

Johnny Knox

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Updated: November 9, 2011 2:03PM

The Roy Williams-Johnny Knox saga seems like an ‘‘either-or’’ proposition. But that’s not how the Bears see it.

Even if Williams solidifies his role as the No. 1 split end when the regular season commences Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons at Soldier Field, ‘‘we still play Johnny,’’ Bears wide receivers coach Darryl Drake said. ‘‘Johnny’s earned the right to it. He’s still going to go in there.

‘‘There are going to be times Roy needs to come out. We’ve got that luxury. We can play them all. It shouldn’t be a situation where a guy has to go 10 plays in a row. We don’t want to do that. We’ve done that in the past because we had to. We don’t have to anymore.’’

While the Wiliams-Knox situation has been debated outside of Halas Hall, Drake says having both of them on the team is a blessing.

‘‘The best thing for Roy right now is Johnny. The best thing for Johnny is Roy — because they push each other,’’ Drake said. ‘‘Roy has made Johnny better. Johnny has made Roy see that there’s no free lunch. So they’ve made each other better. And hopefully that’ll continue.’’

‘On pace’

The Bears like what they see from safety Brandon Meriweather, who’s immersed in a crash course on the Bears’ defense. Meriweather, signed after he was released by the New England Patriots, figures to play some snaps in the safety rotation.

‘‘We’ve thrown a lot at him, but he’s picked it up quickly,’’ coach Lovie Smith said.

‘‘When you’ve been around, you have some different terminology, but most of the coverages are similar. He knew a little bit about how we play ball, so we’ll see. He’s right on pace.’’

‘‘He’s got kind of like corner movement at safety — good speed and good feet,’’ defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said.

Barber progressing

Running back Marion Barber did not practice and is not expected to play against the Falcons, but Smith didn’t rule him out.

‘‘He’s getting a little better each day,’’ Smith said. ‘‘But if not, we’ll just have to move on.’’

Kahlil Bell likely would back up starter Matt Forte if Barber can’t play.

Defensive tackle Anthony Adams (calf), wide receiver Sam Hurd (ankle) and linebacker Lance Briggs (knee) participated fully in practice Thursday, and all expect to play against the Falcons. Defensive end Corey Wootton (knee) was limited and is not expected to play Sunday.

Bullish on O-line

Asked where the Bears have improved on defense, linebacker Brian Urlacher couldn’t help but give kudos to the offense.

‘‘I think we’re [better] up front — not only on defense, but on offense as well,’’ Urlacher said. ‘‘Our line has played better, and I know preseason doesn’t mean much, but we’ve got to take something out of it. I think they did a better job up front.’’

Record breaker?

Williams on Jay Cutler: ‘‘He makes throws I haven’t seen in a long time. I think we have a franchise quarterback that’s going to break some records. I’m not trying to put the pressure on him or nothing, but I think he’s that type of guy in the right offense to do it. And I think he has the right weapons around him to make that happen.’’

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