Martz gives starters Hester, Knox vote of confidence

While anything can change between now and September, it looks like Jay Cutler‘s primary targets at receiver will be Devin Hester and Johnny Knox.

Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz, via the Chicago Tribune, gave the two wideouts a vote of confidence Saturday, going as far as calling Hester an “elite wide receiver.” Martz offered an ambitious plan for Hester, who is entering his fifth season and his third as a wide receiver. Hester began his career as a cornerback and an elite kick returner before he was converted to a receiver. He recorded 57 receptions for 757 yards and three touchdowns in 13 games last season.

“He may miss a snap or two (because of special teams) and then go right back in,” Martz said of Hester. “He’s our starter. I think he’s an elite wide receiver. There’s no question about that. We’ve got all kinds of new things for him. We’re moving him all over. You’ll see him line up anywhere. Shoot, he might line up as a tight end occasionally, who knows. We’ll see.”

Despite not starting a single game last season, second-year WR Knox is set to start opposite Hester. Knox is coming off a strong rookie campaign in which he recorded 45 receptions, 527 yards and five touchdowns.

But anyone who has watched a Martz offense before knows he relies on more than just a couple of speedy receivers. Even if Martz is set on Hester and Knox as his starters, backups Devin Aromashodu (four touchdowns in 2009) and Earl Bennett (15 starts in 2009, coming off arthroscopic knee surgery) are sure to have major roles.

“Aromashodu has stepped up quite a bit, significantly, and we’ve moved him into a role now where we’re trying to see what he can do getting him the ball a little bit more,” Martz said.

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