BOURBONNAIS — Bears special teams coordinator Dave Toub flashed a grin when he was asked about plans for kickoff returns this season.
With his embarrassment of riches, it has to be difficult not to smile.
Danieal Manning handled the bulk of the kickoff returns a season ago — 33 of 59 — but he departed for the Texans in free agency. While Devin Hester had some big returns late last season — including a 79-yarder — the plan is to restore Johnny Knox to the role.
Knox was selected to the Pro Bowl as a returner after the 2009 season, and now that he’s bulked up his frame by 10 pounds or so even though the team still lists him at 6-foot, 185 pounds, he can be more effective.
“Danieal was more of a north-south returner, so the returns we call might be a little different,” Toub said. “But I think Johnny put on some more size. He’ll be able to handle those north-south returns too.”
It doesn’t mean Hester is out of the mix, but Toub wants to feature Knox, who had only eight kickoff returns last season after averaging 29 yards as a rookie in ’09. Kahlil Bell also could get some opportunities, but he could be a long shot to make the roster. Hester will continue as the primary punt returner.
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