NFC North Tour: Wide Receivers

In an accompanying piece to our look at the Packers' receivers, here's the scoop with Green Bay's NFC North rivals. Is Johnny Knox the real deal? Does Calvin Johnson need help? Will the Vikings retain Sidney Rice?

Chicago Bears

Starters: Johnny Knox, Devin Hester. Backups: Earl Bennett, Rashied Davis, Devin Aromashodu.

Knox took another huge step this year toward becoming a go-to guy. He fell short by 40 yards of his goal of reaching 1,000 yards, but emerged this year as a big-play receiver. He averaged 18.8 yards per catch. Hester seemed to plateau as a receiver, but he attracted a lot of attention from the defense and is a legitimate deep threat despite an ordinary average of 11.9 yards per catch. Bennett started slowly, but emerged as the most consistent member of the group and the player with the best hands. Davis is a jack of all trades, and he showed in the season finale against Green Bay that he can step in when needed, as he caught seven passes for 63 yards when Bennett was out. Aromashodu has the best size-speed combination, but he was the forgotten man after he came up small in the opener by dropping passes and looking tentative across the middle.

Detroit Lions

Starters: Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson. Backups: Bryant Johnson, Stefan Logan, Derrick Williams, Brian Clark.

Calvin Johnson and Burleson proved to be a potent 1-2 punch, but they will need to find some depth. Calvin Johnson caught seven passes for 130 yards, with two touchdowns and six catches for first downs in the two games against Green Bay, and he dominated with 10 catches for 152 yards in Detroit's win at Tampa Bay that kept the Packers in the playoff race. Even with a revolving door again at quarterback, he caught 77 passes for 1,120 yards and a dozen touchdowns. Bryant Johnson, Williams and Clark aren't expected to return. Logan proved to be a diverse weapon. He was used as a receiver and a running back, besides his duties as a return man. The Packers had all sorts of trouble with him in Detroit's upset win at Ford Field.

Minnesota Vikings

Starters: Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice. Backups: Hank Baskett, Bernard Berrian, Greg Camarillo, Greg Lewis, Jaymar Johnson.

Coming off a season in which he had 83 catches for 1,312 yards and eight touchdowns, Rice missed much of the season after having hip surgery and finished with 17 catches for 280 yards and two touchdowns in six games. The four-year veteran stands to become a free agent and the Vikings could balk at giving him a rich deal given his struggles with injuries, though they've been negotiating. Rice's season wasn't the only disappointment for this team from a receiving standpoint. Berrian, signed to a six-year, $42 million free-agent contract in 2008, had only 28 catches for 252 yards with no touchdowns and appears a candidate to be released. Harvin, coming off a terrific rookie year in 2009, missed much of training camp and two games because of continuing issues with migraine headaches. Baskett and Lewis almost certainly won't be back. Camarillo, who had 33 catches for 240 yards with a touchdown, is a possession receiver and little more. The speedy Johnson (thumb) spent 2010 on injured reserve but should battle for a roster spot in training camp.

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at and Facebook under Bill Huber.

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