Johnny Knox was released by the Chicago Bears on Tuesday, a little more than a year after suffering a gruesome spinal injury in Week 15 of the 2011 season. Knox hasn't returned to action since the injury, and appears unlikely to ever do so. According to the Chicago Tribune, multiple sources believe that Knox's playing career is over, and that the wide receiver will be forced to retire.
Knox, a fifth-round draft selection by the Bears in the 2009 NFL Draft, was a valuable receiver, largely because of the speed he brings to the table. During his sophomore season in 2010, Knox had 51 receptions for 960 yards, averaging 18.8 yards per reception.
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Chicago used Knox heavily during his rookie season in the return game, as the receiver returned 32 kicks for 927 yards -- including a 102-yard touchdown. Knox didn't return kicks as much during his second or third years, however, only returning a combined 23 kicks in the two seasons.
At just 6' tall, Knox could ill-afford to lose his speed that made him a dangerous threat in the NFL -- and he might have lost that through the injury.
If Knox has indeed played his final snap in the NFL, he ends his career with 133 receptions for 2,214 yards, averaging 16.6 yards per reception, and 12 receiving touchdowns.
Dane Noble of Windy City Gridiron figured that the injury might have signaled the end of Knox's career when it happened. He wrote:
Unfortunately for Knox, his spinal injury ultimately led to the team decided to let him go. And honestly, after seeing the replays of the collision with defensive end Anthony Hargrove, it has always been difficult imagining him ever playing football again.
We wish Johnny Knox the best of luck in his future, and hope he is able one day to return to the field.
Whether or not Knox is able to return to the field is unknown, though it appears to be unlikely.