Losing starting job hard for Knox to accept
Drake: 'You don't bring a Roy Williams in here to sit on the bench'
BOURBONNAIS — No matter how hard Johnny Knox tried to mask it, his frustration was evident.
The third-year Bears receiver never imagined losing his starting job, not after leading the Bears with 960 receiving yards last season. Yet when Roy Williams finally joined the Bears for practice Thursday night, Knox watched as Williams and Devin Hester lined up as the starters.
"It is hard to accept," Knox said Saturday. "You have a little bit of pride in front of it. But no matter who they bring in, I know there's always competition."
Knox suffered a minor lower back injury Thursday, keeping him out of practice the last two days. Once he returns, he'll have an uphill battle to start after starting all 16 games last season.
"It's kind of tough because I've been here," Knox said. "I understand (Williams) has been in this offense. He's a veteran receiver. But at the end of the day, it's all about competition. And I do want to compete for the starting job."
The Bears are confident the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Williams can be the reliable big target based on his success in offensive coordinator Mike Martz's system in Detroit. Knox plays the same "X" receiver position as Williams.
"You don't bring a Roy Williams in here to sit on the bench," receivers coach Darryl Drake said. "Johnny has a lot of room to improve, and he's got to improve. Johnny did some real good things last year. He had some nice numbers. But he still has a long ways to go."
Drake understands Knox's frustration.
"Johnny's got pride, which he should have," Drake said. "Johnny just has to fight. Ain't nothing going to be handed to any of them. You have to earn your stripes in this league every year. What was done last year … it's a new day and it's a new year.
"Do I expect Johnny to be out there playing a bunch? Yes. But you don't have to be the starter. If he continues to fight, you never know what's going to happen."
Knox fully understands he has to refine parts of his game.
"Just have to work on everything," he said. "Cutting out all the mental errors. This year, I'm a lot more confident in this offense. I know where to be."