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Will the No. 1 Bears Receiver Please Stand Up?

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Heading into the season, one of the biggest questions facing the Bears was just who is the No. 1 receiver? Johnny Knox led the team in yardage last season. Devin Hester worked best when he had a balance of receiving and returning kicks. The Bears signed Roy Williams and Dane Sanzenbacher. Could either of them step up and become the top dog?

    Seven games into the season, there still is no clear-cut top receiver. Between the injury of Earl Bennett, the emergence of Sanzenbacher and Matt Forte's incredibly productive season, Jay Cutler still has no consistent target. No player has been the Bears' top receiver for more than two games.

    Game 1, win over Atlanta: Matt Forte, 5 catches for 90 yards
    Game 2, loss to New Orleans: Matt Forte, 10 catches for 117 yards
    Game 3, loss to Green Bay: Johnny Knox, 4 catches for 84 yards
    Game 4, win over Carolina: Johnny Knox, 3 catches for 48 yards
    Game 5, loss to Detroit: Dane Sanzenbacher, 6 catches for 64 yards
    Game 6, win over Minnesota: Devin Hester, 5 catches for 91 yards
    Game 7, win over Tampa Bay: Roy Williams, 4 catches for 59 yards

    Forte was twice the Bears' top receiver and leads the team in both yards and receptions. He has a catch rate of 77 percent, which is better than Knox, Sanzenbacher, Hester or Williams. Forte's passes are not usually as difficult to catch as the wideouts. More often, he catches short screens and dump-off passes and then manufactures yardage after the catch. That partially explains why he has a better catch rate than his teammates.

    However, it doesn't explain why a running back leads in yardage and receptions. Though the Bears are more comfortable doling the ball out to several different options, relying on a back to both run and catch is a dangerous game. Hester, Knox and Williams -- the men paid to catch the ball and run with it -- should spend time this bye week trying to figure out how they can make themselves the Bears no. 1 passing option.