Mike Martz goes ga-ga over his wide receivers

BOURBONNAIS, Ill.—When the Chicago Bears hired Mike Martz as offensive coordinator in January, he said at the time that he thought a rather non-descript group of wide receivers, at least in the eyes of the rest of the league, could be one of the strengths of the team.

Fast forward six months to training camp, and Martz still remains high on a group that is still young and on the inexperienced side. Speaking for the first time in more than two months, Martz heaped praise on all areas of the roster, singling out quarterback Jay Cutler as well as an unproven offensive line, the starters for which have yet to be identified.

He also talked up Devin Hester, who he initially compared to slot receiver Az-Zahir Hakim when he was hired.

“I think Devin’s a bit ahead of the curve. He’s had a remarkable camp, by the way,” Martz said. “He came back after spring, there were times he struggled a bit in the spring, trying to figure things out, but he’s been mistake-free so far, and he’s been outstanding in his route technique, so he’s better right now than I would expect him to be.”

Right now, Hester and Johnny Knox, the second-year player from Abilene Christian University, are lining up as the starters. Knox has been the preferred target for Cutler in 7-on-7 and team drills. Martz is thrilled with the pair.

“They look like we’d want them to be at this point,” he said. “The press-man is going to be an issue in this system with the releases. (Receivers coach) Darryl (Drake) has done a great job with our group getting off the ball against the press. The thing that happened with the receivers that I was really impressed with—this is the first time it’s ever happened to me when you put something new in. We picked up with the receivers where we left off in the spring. They didn’t have to go back and kind of re-do something.

“They just came in and they were going pretty good technically. I’m talking about the depth of things, the precision of the routes, the adjustments. All those things, we didn’t have to go back and really kind of go over things. We just kind of kept going. So that’s very impressive with our group.”

If Martz’s rampant optimism is 75 percent on the money, maybe the Bears have something going here with pretty much the same personnel Ron Turner had a year ago. Who would of thunk it?

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