Matt Ryan: Falcons have to get ball in Devin Hester’s hands

FLOWERY BRANCH – Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is confident that the team will find a role for wide receiver Devin Hester in the new offense.

“He’s a playmaker,” Ryan said. “Anytime that you’ve got guys like that, you’ve got to get the ball in their hands.”

Hester arrived at camp unsure of his role after the Falcons released No. 3 wide receiver Harry Douglas and signed Leonard Hankerson and drafted Justin Hardy in the fourth round.

“It’s still up in the air,” said Hester, who was the fourth receiver last season. “I really don’t know as of right now.”

Ryan believes that Hester proved his worth last season. The team is installation a scheme and looping Hester into the action may not be an early priority.

“I think he showcased last year just what kind of wide receiver that he is,” Ryan said. “He’s a guy who can go out there and give you as many reps as you need from that spot and he’s going to make plays. I love having guys like that. Guys who go out there and do anything that you ask them to do.”

Hester, 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, caught 38 passes for 504 yards and two touchdowns last season.

He’s one of the most prolific return men in NFL history, holds NFL records for punt return touchdowns (14) and combined career return touchdowns (20).

Over his career, he’s totaled 3,481 yards on 282 punt returns. He has also added 6,632 yards and five touchdowns on 267 career kickoff returns.

Hester led the NFL in yards per punt (13.3), number of kickoff/punt returns (63), and combined kick and punt yards with 1,368 yards in 2014.

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