Devin Hester

Tabor: Devin Hester is Hall of Famer

DevinHesterFalcons
BEREA, Ohio -- Earlier this season, Cleveland Browns special-teams coordinator Chris Tabor jokingly said certain punt and kickoff returners around the league give him sleepless nights in the week leading up to a game.

But that has not been the case with the Atlanta Falcons this week, who drop back ninth-year NFL record holder, and multi-time Pro Bowler, Devin Hester to return kickoffs and punts.

"I slept real well last night," Tabor said Thursday. "I slept like a baby, cried my way to sleep last night.

"He's a future Hall of Famer. I know him real well, have a lot of respect for him, not only as a player, but more importantly, as a person. It's a great challenge for our cover units. I have confidence in our coverage guys, so we'll see where we're at based off this returner."

Tabor knows very well the kind of impact Hester can have on a football game.

Before being named the Browns' special-teams coordinator prior to the 2011 season, Tabor was an assistant with the Chicago Bears from 2008-2010, where he got the opportunity to coach Hester for three seasons.

During those three seasons, Hester returned 89 punts for 949 yards and three touchdowns, and 50 kickoffs for 1,262 yards, but was no more effective on special teams than in 2010, Tabor's final year in Chicago, Hester returned 33 punts for 564 yards and three touchdowns.

"He catches the ball real well," Tabor said. "The thing that separates him obviously is his speed but more his vision and his instincts. Devin makes you cover the whole field as opposed to just a little bit of the field. With that, you have to take into consideration his talents. At the same time, we've got to play to our talents and our strengths, and we'll do that.

"Some people thought (he slowed), but this year, as you watch him on tape, I think he's kind of found the fountain of youth a little bit. He's not one of the leading punt returners because he hasn't had enough opportunities, but he's over 12 yards per return. Kickoff wise, he's making you cover the whole thing. He looks like old Devin to me."

In week three in September, Hester, a three-time Pro Bowler, broke former Atlanta cornerback Deion Sanders' NFL record for the most return touchdowns when he ran back a punt 62 yards for a touchdown in a 56-14 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

During that same game, when Hester scored a 20-yard touchdown on a reverse, he became only the second NFL player to score touchdowns rushing, receiving, on kick, punt and missed field goal returns.

Hester has returned an NFL record 14 punts for touchdowns, and has 20 special-teams scores in his career. Hester's 3,392 punt return yards are the most among all active players.

"A lot of memories with him," Tabor said. "One of them was a Monday night game when the Metrodome kind of collapsed. We had to go play at the University of Minnesota, and he set a record that night for punt returns. I can't remember exactly what it was, but it was a heck of a return.

"Probably my biggest memory of him though is you could stand over on the sideline and kind of say, ''Hess, what do you like?' He'd say, 'Coach, send me to the field,' and you'd say, 'The field it is.'

"He's a dynamic player, but at the same time, he's a true pro. That's why he's been playing a lot time and been so successful. I have a lot of stories. Not one really sticks out, but I think highly of him."


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(wkyc.com)
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Devin Hester fined for scuffle with Panthers

DevinHesterFalcons
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons receivers Roddy White and Devin Hester said they were fined $8,268 each for their roles in separate third-quarter scuffles with the Carolina Panthers during last Sunday’s 19-17 win.

Hester received a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty for diving head first in attempt to knock Panthers cornerback Josh Norman off teammate Harry Douglas as Norman and Douglas wrestled on the ground. Douglas appeared to pull down Norman by the facemask, but Douglas declined to say if he received a fine.

Several Carolina players went after Hester and threw him down after his hit on Norman. White pushed one of the players away from Hester.

Moments after, White got facemask to facemask with Panthers defensive end Kony Ealy. Ealy then gave White a two-hand shove, and White fired back. No penalty was called on either player although it occurred in front of the official.

Both White and Hester plan to appeal the fines.

"Yes, of course," White said of appealing. "I’m not just going to let them just take my money.’’

The initial incident involved Panthers safety Roman Harper getting into it with Falcons running back Antone Smith after Harper was flagged for unnecessary roughness against White. Smith was not penalized for shoving Harper.

It remains unclear which Carolina players received fines, if any. Falcons coach Mike Smith was obviously upset when Hester was the only player flagged following the scuffles.

"I'm sure that when it all gets said and done that the league office will take a look at it, and if there were other guys involved in it, even though it wasn't a 15-yard penalty,’’ Smith said after the game. "That's what the league does. But I thought it was very unusual to have all that take place and only one player is penalized."


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(espn.com)
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Trucker pleads guilty to ripping off Devin Hester

DevinHesterFalcons
A trucker who conned former Chicago Bears kickoff return star Devin Hester and others out of $1.5 million pleaded guilty Wednesday and said he’s struggling with booze and gambling addictions.

Gregg Steinnagel, 53, promised quick, large profits to Hester if he invested with a pal, then kept the cash for himself.

The pair met after Hester — who famously ran back the opening kickoff of Superbowl XLI for a touchdown — paid Steinnagel to transport a car from Lake County to Florida, where he grew up.

Steinnagel admitted Wednesday that he teamed up with a flight attendant named Jeffrey Fazzio, who posed as an attorney using the alias “Neal Rubenstein.”

After transporting the player’s car to Florida, Steinnagel introduced the player to Fazzio and promised huge returns at low risk for investments in distressed real estate.

Starting in 2011, Hester made several small investments that paid off; then Steinnagel and Fazzio took him for 14 investments totaling nearly $400,000, court documents state.

Fazzio, of Pittsburgh, has since died but Steinnagel was arrested at his Chicago home in May.

Prosecutors said Steinnagel gambled with the loot he stole from Hester and others at casinos in the Chicago area, Nevada and Florida.

Steinnagel admitted Wednesday that he’s being treated by a doctor for alcohol and gambling problems.

He’s due to be sentenced in the new year. Federal sentencing guidelines suggest he should get between 41 and 51 months in prison, though his attorney is free to ask for less.

Hester currently plays for the Atlanta Falcons. His representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday afternoon.


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(chicagosuntimes.com)
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Devin Hester sorry for flag; not sorry for defending Harry Douglas

DevinHesterFalcons
CHARLOTTE -- Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Devin Hester, who picked up what could have been a costly unnecessary roughness penalty for going after a Carolina player with his helmet, said he actions were all about defending teammate Harry Douglas.

During a series of fights in the third quarter of Sunday's 19-17 win against the Panthers, Hester was flagged for diving in with the crown of his helmet to knock Panthers cornerback Josh Norman off Douglas after Norman and Douglas wrestled each other to the ground. Panthers safety Colin Jones then went after Hester. Eventually, three different Carolina players -- including Mario Addison, Hester's former teammate in Chicago -- pulled Hester to the ground.

"Once the play was over, I turned and Harry was about 10, 15 yards in front of me and the guy was on top of him just pushing him in the face," Hester said. "I was walking toward them and nobody was breaking it up. So I started speeding up.

"When you're around these guys every day, you build that brotherly relationship. When you see somebody doing that ... that's Harry, man. I thought they were trying to take some cheap shots. I was a tough game with two division teams. When it came down to it, stuff got heated."

Hester's 15-yard penalty came after a Steven Jackson run put the Falcons' at the Panthers' 27-yard line, so it essentially backed the team out of field goal range. Hester then fumbled the ball over to Carolina on the next play as linebacker Thomas Davis put a ball-jarring hit on him.

Hester admitted coach Mike Smith scolded him about the penalty.

"He was just like 'you have to be smart, with the situation that we're in right now,'" Hester said. "At the end of the day, about 95 percent of people would agree that it was a silly mistake, but it was right to defend your teammate. You can't let anybody do that to your teammate.

"Could I have handled it in a better way? Yeah. But I do I regret it? No."

Smith obviously was discouraged about Hester's penalty, but wondered why Hester was the only one to draw a flag following the melee.

"It was very costly again, I don't know how through all of that that transpired -- there was a lot, from where I was standing, going on," Smith said. "I don't know how it's a one-sided flag. I don't know. I've never seen that.

"I'm sure that when it all gets said and done that the league office will take a look at it, and if there were other guys involved in it, even though it wasn't a 15-yard penalty. That's what the league does. But I thought it was very unusual to have all that take place and only one player is penalized."

Douglas talked about Hester defending him.

"One thing I know about our team is that we're going to have each others' backs," Douglas said. "That's every group on this team. I know one thing: Our group, the receiver group, we're not backing down to nobody, we don't care who it is. And no matter who is in the situation, we're going to come protect one another. That's just who we are in our group. That's what we do."


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(espn.com)
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Devin Hester departs with wrist injury

DevinHesterFalcons
Falcons wide receivers Devin Hester was forced out of Sunday's game against the Panthers with a wrist injury. Hester sustained the injury after absorbing a brutal hit, which caused him to lose the ball in the third quarter. He was escorted back to the locker room for further testing. The Falcons have ruled him questionable to return to the game.



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(cbssports.com)
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Devin Hester held out of Falcons' practice

DevinHesterFalcons
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons receivers Devin Hester (ankle) and Harry Douglas were held out of Wednesday's practice due to lingering ankle and foot injuries.

Both players initially suffered the injuries in a Week 3 win against Tampa Bay. Hester hasn't missed any game action while Douglas returned two games ago after missing four consecutive games with a deep bruise in his left foot.

"We anticipate that Devin will be out on the practice field in a limited basis tomorrow," Falcons coach Mike Smith said.


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(espn.com)
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Devin Hester still in offensive game plan

DevinHesterFalcons
Quarterback Matt Ryan said the Falcons still plan to use wide receiver Devin Hester, who wasn’t targeted in the passing game against Detroit and didn’t catch a pass for the first time this season.

Harry Douglas’ return to the lineup against the Lions and reclaimed the No. 3 wide receiver position. Douglas caught three passes for 42 yards and picked up a key third down in the fourth quarter with a finger-tip grab.

“Devin is a part of our plan every week,” Ryan said. “Obviously he’s showcased this year what he’s capable of doing and how explosive of a player that he is.”

Hester has been targeted on 25 passes and has 18 catches for 263 yards, but his snaps were cut against Detroit because of the protection concerns which limited the use of the Falcons’ four-wide receiver formations.

“I think it’s important to try and get all of playmakers the ball in space and see what happens,” Ryan said.

Hester went catch-less for the first time this season.

“We’ve had opportunities on third down,” Hester said. “There are plays to be made and as a wide receiver group, we have to make them.”


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(ajc.com)
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Devin Hester prompts changes in Bucs' plan

DevinHesterFalcons
TAMPA — The last time the Bucs saw Falcons PR/WR Devin Hester, he was striking a "Prime Time" pose on his way to the end zone with an NFL-record 20th return for a touchdown. That one came on a 62-yard punt return in the Falcons' 56-14 rout Sept. 18 at the Georgia Dome. The return broke the record of 19 held by Hester's idol, Deion Sanders.

Hester, who played his first eight seasons with the Bears under now-Bucs coach Lovie Smith, also had a 20-yard end around for a touchdown in the game.

Smith had a ringside seat for most of Hester's feats in Chicago. But now he has to devise ways to stop him before Sunday's game against the Falcons.

"You have some options," Smith said. "One of them is to say, 'Hey, we're going to stop him. He puts on his cleats like everybody else does.' Another one, of course, is try to keep the ball out of his hands. Punt it higher to be able to get coverage down there.

"We have a few different options. We will at least change up the game plan a little bit from last time."


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(tampabay.com)
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Dirk Koetter explains Devin Hester's low snap count

DevinHesterFalcons
Atlanta Falcons receiver/return specialist Devin Hester played a season-low 11 offensive snaps in this past Sunday's 22-21 loss to the Lions, and most would assume it had everything to do with Harry Douglas returning the lineup from a foot injury.

But Hester and Douglas were on the field together for the first three games of the season, and Hester averaged 20.6 snaps in those games. Hester played 52 percent of the snaps or better in the four games Douglas was sidelined.

When asked about his decreased playing time against the Lions, Hester was far from upset but couldn't provide an answer.

Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, who used a four-receiver set with Julio Jones, Roddy White, Douglas and Hester during the first series against the Lions, explained Hester's playing time.

"We had a four-receiver package," Koetter said. "We made a decision, as the week went on based on Detroit's success they had with their front four -- I think they were top two or three in the league in sacks -- and with two new starters on the O-line, that we better batten down the edges a little bit. And going four wide receivers might not be in our best interest, even though having Harry back and Devin, getting those guys back at full speed, that's something we can definitely use. But that might not have been the best front to do against.

"Plus, although it was supposed to be a 'home' game, the crowd noise was an issue. There was a lot of noise in that stadium so, once again, that's another thing. When you're having to use a silent cadence in the shotgun, your tackles are looking in at the ball, not looking at the defensive end. So that's another reason you really don't want to shorten those edges down."

Koetter went with the four-wide look on the Falcons' first third down of the game. Jones ran a crossing route, Hester a go, Douglas a comeback and White a dig. The end result was Matt Ryan hitting White for a 24-yard gain on third-and-8 from the Falcons' 22-yard line. Three plays later, the Falcons again used their four-wide set, with Ryan finding White for a 12-yard gain on first-and-10. The drive ended with Ryan's 7-yard touchdown pass to rookie Devonta Freeman.

Maybe Hester and the four-receiver set will see more action in the next game at Tampa Bay. Hester's best all-around game this season was in Week 3 against the Buccaneers.


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(espn.com)
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Jim Caldwell praises Devin Hester

DevinHesterFalcons
BAGSHOT, England -- Detroit Lions coach Jim Caldwell has been so impressed with Atlanta Falcons returner Devin Hester throughout his career that he has changed the way returns and returners are viewed in football.

"He's made it an art form and cut a niche in there like no one else in the game," Caldwell said Friday. "There's been some great returners in the game, there's no question about that. Deion Sanders was one that was one of the guys that was dangerous in that regard.

"[Hester] is equally so and I think he will be one of the first guys to ever carve that niche out."

That niche, according to Caldwell, is a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The 31-year-old Hester holds the NFL records for most special teams touchdowns in a career (20) and most punt return touchdowns (14). He also helped revolutionize the position in the NFL.

Caldwell should also know his abilities well from Super Bowl XLI, when Caldwell was part of the Indianapolis Colts staff. Hester ran the opening kickoff back 92 yards for a touchdown against the Colts in a game Indianapolis won, 29-17.

"Any time he gets the ball in his hands he's a threat to go all the way," Caldwell said. "Very difficult guy to handle. We've faced some very good ones prior to this weekend and he's no exception.

"He's probably going to the Hall of Fame because he's a cut above maybe the rest."


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(espn.com)
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Ravens will challenge Devin Hester, not kick away from him

DevinHesterFalcons
Ravens special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg says that as he prepares to face the Falcons and Devin Hester on Sunday, he’s not planning to wave the white flag of surrender and kick high and short or out of bounds to avoid giving Hester a chance to run the ball back.

Instead, Rosburg says, the Ravens will welcome the opportunity to compete with Hester, and plan to contain him.

“We have faced a lot of good returners this year already,” Rosburg told the Baltimore Sun. “When we play Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, we face very good punt returners of that caliber and of that type. We have a lot of confidence in our punt game. We have good gunners, we have a good punter and we have good inside core guys, so we are going to do all we can to try to contain him with what we do.”

Hester is the NFL’s all-time leader in kick return touchdowns, and this year he’s in the Top 10 in the NFL in both kickoff return average and punt return average. Rosburg says that makes the Ravens look forward to taking him on.

“It’s up to our guys. They relish a challenge,” Rosburg said. “And playing against the best returner touchdown-wise that there’s ever been, that’s a great challenge for our guys. They look forward to that challenge, but they also have a great deal of respect for whom we are playing. . . . He has the perfect combination of skills for a returner. He’s fast, and he has incredible change-of-direction skills. He can run up and smell somebody’s breath and then disappear. The other thing he can do, which people aren’t really that aware of, he can break tackles. He’s a strong runner. So, he really has the three-way combination to be the outstanding returner he is. Every time you give him the ball, he’s a threat to take it to the house, and that’s his goal.”

The Ravens’ goal is to keep Hester off the highlight reel on Sunday.

(profootballtalk.com)
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Devin Hester shares a few moments with old teammates

DevinHesterFalcons
ATLANTA -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Atlanta Falcons' 27-13 loss to the Chicago Bears:

Devin Hester didn't show much emotion as he addressed the media at his locker despite all the hype about him facing his old team Sunday. Hester did share a few moments with his ex-teammates prior to kickoff and after the game, specifically Tim Jennings, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Matt Forte. "I just told them congrats on the win and keep it up," Hester said. "I just said good luck the rest of the season and stay healthy." Hester mentioned that Jay Cutler said "What's up, Dev?" during pregame warm-ups. Hester acknowledged Cutler back with a head nod.


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(espn.com)
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#proCanes Pat O'Donnell & Devin Hester Meet For The First Time

DevinHesterFalcons
Bears punter Pat O'Donnell has never crossed paths with Devin Hester.

O'Donnell is only a rookie after all. And even though he, like Hester, played his college ball at Miami, what he knows about the legendary return specialist comes mostly from watching highlights.

"He's an explosive player," O'Donnell said Wednesday. "He's great in the open field. So you need to take that away from him."

With that scouting report needing a bit more detail this week, that makes O'Donnell's special teams mentor, Robbie Gould, a pretty valuable resource. Gould spent eight seasons as Hester's teammate, gaining a profound appreciation for his explosiveness on game day and his meticulous preparation methods.

"He's the best returner to ever play," Gould said. "He doesn't just catch the ball and run really fast. He sets up his returns really well. He sees the return really well. And when he sees green space, he's going to go find it."

Yes, the Bears are well aware of the challenge that awaits them when they head to the Georgia Dome on Sunday to face Hester and the Falcons. From 2006 to '13, Hester was a keg full of dynamite as a returner for the Bears, delivering 19 regular-season return touchdowns.

Three weeks ago, he recorded his NFL-record 20th return score, taking a Buccaneers punt 62 yards to the end zone.

So the Bears have decisions to make this week on how to handle Hester — whether to kick to him, where to kick to him, how to align their coverages.

Special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis knows the importance of homework in a week like this. But when asked if the challenge of facing the greatest returner in league history is fun for him, DeCamillis leaned back and laughed.

"Yeah, this is a blast, man," he said with obvious sarcasm. "I'm having a blast right now."

The Bears are far from the first team to have Hester anxiety. In nine seasons, including Super Bowl XLI, Hester has delivered 21 return scores against 14 teams off of 16 kickers and punters.

PatODonnellCanes
The obvious armchair advice is to kick away from him, to send kickoffs through the end zone whenever possible and to angle punts toward the seats.

But Gould notes the dangers involved in trying only to drill kickoffs through the field of play, potentially creating line drives without great hang time that Hester might snag a yard or two from the end line, fueling his aggressiveness.

And on the suggestion of consistently firing punts out of bounds, DeCamillis notes the pitfalls there too.

"It's a lot easier (to say) to just hit the ball out of bounds than what people think," DeCamillis said. "You have to protect for the rush. … Otherwise, everybody would do it. I'm sure at Soldier Field, you probably saw it a lot where people hit 20-yard punts trying to do that."

Hester is no doubt itching for a chance to make his former organization pay. On a conference call Wednesday, he admitted he was bothered by the Bears' decision to move in a different direction last winter, allowing his contract to expire in March and never seriously considering a new deal for the 10 days he sat on the free-agent market.

"They didn't offer me no contract," Hester said. "They didn't call me, period. … I just had to take it the way it was."

Past business aside, Hester has a more pressing focus on finding a way to make an impact Sunday. He called O'Donnell a young player "trying to get a feel for the game right now." And his familiarity with Gould, he says, gives him an understanding of the kicker's strengths and shortcomings.

Asked specifically what Gould's weaknesses are, Hester paused.

"Robbie knows," he said with a chuckle.

Gould, however, wants it known he has no aversion to putting the ball in Hester's hands.

"Devin knows my tendencies," he said. "But I've got a good game plan ready for him. … It's not about shying away from Devin. Listen, he puts a lot of pressure on you as a kicker. But you talk about having opportunities to play against a great player, and you have to step up and play great."

Hester's most recent return score — that 62-yarder against Lovie Smith's Bucs in Week 3 — flashed reminders of his brilliance, his speed, savvy, vision and agility all exploding like a firework.

"We've got to get to him fast and make sure we wrap up," said Bears rookie Senorise Perry, a member of the punt coverage team. "He loves to do anything outrageous to get a touchdown. He's kind of a daredevil. He'll try anything."

Perry has been marveling at Hester highlights since he grew up a Miami Hurricanes fan with Hester as one of his favorite players. Asked if he would introduce himself Sunday, Perry smiled.

"I'm kind of nervous when I get around people like that," he said.

Hester can have that effect.


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(chicagotribune.com)
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Devin Hester not pleased with Chicago breakup last year

DevinHesterFalcons
Falcons wide receiver Devin Hester was not pleased with the way things ended in Chicago, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. When speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Hester showed his frustrations on how he played out the final year of his contract and how the Bears did not meet his asking price of $3 million per year.

"Chicago didn't offer me anything. They didn't offer me no contract," Hester said. "They didn't call me or nothing, They didn't call me, period, pretty much. I didn't hear from Chicago. They didn't say they were going to re-sign me. All I know is that they were going to go in a different direction."

Hester already spurned his former coach with a rushing touchdown and a punt return touchdown in Week 3. Now he'll get his first crack at his former team on Sunday at the Georgia Dome. Hester has 14 catches for 212 yards and a touchdown through five games.


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(cbsnews.com)
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How Did Devin Hester Decide On #17 With the Falcons?

DevinHesterFalcons
One of the many great sights on game days is watching countless Falcons fans fill the Georgia Dome and away stadiums, wearing the jersey of their favorite player, which got us to wondering if the players have a specific reason why they're wearing the number that is on the front and back of their jersey. Falcons WR Devin Hester's wears No. 17, thanks to a tight family bond and some math.

The Atlanta Falcons signed Devin Hester as a free agent on March 20, 2014 and once the season began, it didn't take long before his number was called on offense; he scored in the team's second preseason game, a 12-yard TD reception in the second quarter against the Houston Texans. The TD was just a brief sign of things to come in the regular season.

So far in 2014, Hester has covered a lot of ground, via 14 catches for 212 yards and a touchdown, two carries for 23 yards and another TD and the NFL record-setting highlight, his 20th-career non-offensive score, a 62-yard punt return in Week 3 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Don't forget, Hester also recorded a tackle, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in that historic Week 3 game against the Bucs. Truly, he has been all over the field, proudly wearing No. 17, a jersey number with significance.

"I added my birthday and subtracted from my wife’s birthday and my youngest one’s birthday" Hester said about choosing his jersey number. 

He wore jersey No. 23 with the Chicago Bears (2006-13), as well as in high school, where he starred for Suncoast High (Riviera Beach, Fla.), rushing for 1,014 yards and 12 TDs on 94 carries, while gaining 1,028 yards on 38 catches with nine TDs in addition to throwing for five TDs and 225 yards in his senior season.

Because Hester joined the Bears as a cornerback, he was allowed to wear the No. 23 even after switching to the wide receiver position. Once he joined the Falcons, however, he wasn't allowed to make an offer to cornerback Robert Alford for the number per NFL rules pertaining to which positions can wear which numbers.

Following high school, Hester moved on to thrive with the Hurricanes at the University of Miami, wearing jersey No. 4, playing offense, defense and special teams from 2003-05, starting games at cornerback, nickelback, running back and fullback, while seeing time at wide receiver and returning punts (four touchdowns) and kickoffs (two touchdowns).

Of all the jersey numbers Hester has worn, the one he likes best is whichever one his many fans are wearing.

"It’s a big compliment," Hester said. "I grew up wearing NFL jerseys. You wear whoever your favorite player is; you want to wear their jersey. It means a lot to know I have fans our there, supporting me by wearing my jersey."


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(atlantafalcons.com)
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Brotherly love as Hester preps for Bears

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Atlanta Falcons receiver/return specialist Devin Hester, who was a second-round draft pick of Chicago in 2006, is looking forward to facing his former team Sunday when the Bears visit the Georgia Dome.

"It's going to be like when you grow up with your brother and he's in the 12th grade and you're in the 11th grade but for some reason, you’re going to opposite schools," Hester said. "It's like he got sent to a private school and I went to a regular school, and now we end up playing each other."

An unhappy Hester had a mutual parting with the Bears, and he has since been rejuvenated while excelling at receiver and in the return game for the Falcons.

Bears cornerback Tim Jennings is one of the "brothers" Hester is looking forward to seeing. And Jennings certainly is looking forward to facing Hester.

"Hell yeah I miss D, man," Jennings said Tuesday. "I'm out here mad every week because I see how happy he is and all the success he's having. I'm happy for him, but he's supposed to be doing that with us."

The Bears will have a tough enough time contending with Julio Jones and Roddy White, but Jennings talked about the key to keeping Hester from impacting the game on offense.

"We all knew he was capable as a receiver, we just didn't know how he was going to do it," Jennings said. "Atlanta is putting him in great situations, giving him opportunities to get the ball and letting him do what he does after getting the ball in his hands.

"The best thing you can do is not allow him to have the ball. That's easier said than done. We know the danger that he is once he gets the ball in his hands. The only way I can tell you to stop him is to not let him get started."

Hester, who asked not to play receiver for the Bears last season, has 14 catches for 212 yards and a 36-yard touchdown for the Falcons through five games. He's also scored on a 20-yard reverse and a 62-yard punt return.


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(espn.com)
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Devin Hester not out for revenge against Bears

DevinHesterFalcons
FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons wide receiver Devin Hester is dreading facing his former team the Chicago Bears at 4:25 pl.m. Sunday at the Georgia Dome.

“Not especially,” said Hester when asked if he was looking forward to playing the Bears on Monday. “It’s going to feel like I’m playing against my brothers. Anybody that has brothers and have played against them in basketball or football, it’s the same type of thing.”

Before signing with the Falcons as a free agent in March, Hester played the eight previous season in the NFL with the Bears.

Hester has caught 14 passes for 212 yards and one touchdown. He also returned a punt for a touchdown against Tampa Bay to set the league mark for most returns for touchdowns with 20.

The Falcons and Hester appear to be taking a different tact approaching this game than Baltimore’s Steve Smith took when getting ready to play his old team, the Carolina Panthers.

Steven Smith was open and frank about wanting to prove to the Panthers that he could still play.

“It’s not really a big deal,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “Devin looks forward to playing every game. He’s very passionate about playing football… .I don’t think that we’ll have to calm him down. He’s a very level headed player and he makes plays. I think he’ll do that again on Sunday.”


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(ajc.com)
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Devin Hester Named One Of The Biggest Surprises

DevinHesterFalcons
For the Atlanta Falcons, WR Devin Hester is the gift that keeps on giving. Between setting the NFL all-time record for total non-offensive touchdowns and becoming another target for Falcons QB Matt Ryan, Hester has shown the Chicago Bears what they are missing.

In the middle of the offseason, Hester was released by the Bears, making him a free-agent for the first time in his nine-year career. Since coming to the Falcons, Hester has proven himself to his teammates, his coaching staff and the Falcons fan base in the first four games of the season, with 12 receptions for 196 yards, one receiving touchdown and one rushing touchdown for 20 yards.

All of that combined is why Hester sits at No. 5 on Around the NFL writer Chris Wesseling's top 10 surprises of the 2014 season thus far.

“Don’t be surprised if Hester is one of the reasons that Ryan ends up leading the NFL in passing yards this season,” wrote Wesseling. “(He’s) perhaps the offseason’s most under-the-radar free-agent acquisition…”


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(atlantafalcons.com)
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Devin Hester reflects well on Harry Douglas

DevinHesterFalcons
With Harry Douglas inactive because of a foot injury, Devin Hester played the role of third wheel to Julio Jones and Roddy White Week 4 at Minnesota, catching five passes for 70 yards and a touchdown.

The 70 yards were more than Douglas has had in a game this season. Yet because the performance came with Douglas sidelined, it only further validated that the Falcons offense is designed for three wide receivers and able to sustain three wide receivers. Between quarterback Matt Ryan's poor showing in Week 2 and the early injury to Douglas in Week 3, Douglas' relevance to Fantasy owners had been in doubt.

When Douglas returns, Hester won't just go away, but he was clearly a lesser part of the passing game in Week 2 and before Douglas went down in Week 3. I'm thinking Douglas is still the better choice as a bye-week replacement and occasional start in points-per-reception leagues.


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(cbssports.com)
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Devin Hester catches 36-yard TD in Week 4 loss

DevinHesterFalcons
Devin Hester caught five passes for 70 yards and one touchdown in the Falcons' Week 4 loss to the Vikings.

Working as the clear No. 3 receiver with Harry Douglas (foot) sidelined, Hester saw seven targets. Hester turned a dump off pass into a 36-yard score when he broke two tackles on the way to the end zone. He actually looks decent on offense after struggling with it in Chicago. After four games, Hester is on pace for a 48-784-4 receiving line.


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(rotoworld.com)
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Falcons OC Dirk Koetter: Devin Hester has earned more WR playing time

DevinHesterFalcons
Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said Tuesday that Devin Hester has earned his increased playing time at wide receiver, according to ESPN.com.

While the kick return specialist did appear at receiver during his eight-year career with the Chicago Bears, he hadn't caught more than 26 passes in a season since 2010 and wasn't targeted at all last season. In his first game for the Falcons, Hester had five catches for 99 yards in Atlanta's Week 1 win over the New Orleans Saints.

Koetter said he's been surprised by Hester's route-running ability, catch radius and hands.

"The thinking is simple: All players usually get what they deserve," Koetter said. "Devin has played his way into more plays. I've told you before, when Devin signed here, I was thinking, 'Chicago didn't use him. Why are we going to use him?' And Smitty [coach Mike Smith] was talking to (wide receivers coach) Terry [Robiskie] and I saying, 'Hey, we've got to find some stuff for Devin.'

"Devin has totally earned everything he's got by how he plays in practice. It's true of any player, it just happens that Devin (is) the greatest kick-returner in league history."

Hester's best season came in 2009, when he had 57 receptions for 757 yards and three touchdowns. He's had two catches for 27 yards in the Falcons' two games since the season opener.

In Atlanta's 56-14 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Thursday, Hester had the 20th kickoff/punt return touchdown of his career, breaking the NFL record held by Deion Sanders.


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(si.com)
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Devin Hester Excited for Return to TCF Bank Stadium

DevinHesterFalcons
Days after setting the all-time NFL record for 20 career-return scores, thanks to a brilliant 62-yard punt return TD in Week 3, Falcons WR Devin Heste was named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week.

"I give all the credit to my teammates and coaches," Hester said Wednesday. "It's a credit to them and the work they put in, each and every week."

As for the upcoming week, Hester is focused on the Minnesota Vikings team that he knows really well. During his illustrious nine-year NFL career, he's faced the Vikings 15 times (9-6), all while playing for the Chicago Bears. The current Falcons star has quite a resume against the Purple and Gold, logging:
5 receiving TDs
3 punt return TDs
1 kick return TD

After Hester's last visit to TCF Bank Stadium (where the Falcons play this Sunday), on Dec. 20, 2010, he left the land of 10,000 lakes with the following numbers:
1 kickoff return for 79 yards
2 punt returns, including a 64-yard TD
2 receptions for 23 yards and 1 TD (15-yard score)

"We played them so much, when I was with the Chicago Bears, that I've had a lot of opportunities," Hester said. "I'm excited to play them; it's a team I'm used to playing against, so, we'll see how it turns out this time."

Falcons fans are hoping for similar numbers from Hester this weekend, which would only help accomplish the ultimate goal on Sunday, a third win of the 2014 regular season.


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(atlantafalcons.com)
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Devin Hester earns his 14th special teams player of the week award

DevinHesterFalcons
The best kick returner in NFL history has been recognized again.

Atlanta’s Devin Hester has been named the NFC special teams player of the week after a Week Three win over the Bucs in which he broke the NFL record for return touchdowns. Hester’s punt return touchdown was the 20th return touchdown of his career. He has 14 punt return touchdowns, five kickoff return touchdowns and one missed field goal return touchdown.

Hester has led the league in punt return touchdowns three times, kickoff return touchdowns twice, punt return yards twice and kickoff return yards once. He’ll have a very good chance of becoming the first player inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame strictly as a return man.

This was the 14th time Hester won the NFC special teams player of the week award; he won it 13 times in eight seasons with the Bears. Hester is averaging 15.2 yards a punt return and 28.0 yards a kickoff return this year. The Bears, who are averaging 3.7 yards on punt returns and 19.2 yards on kickoff returns, may be wondering why they let him go.


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(profootballtalk.com)
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That One Time Devin Hester Raced A Cheetah

DevinHesterFalcons
There's no doubt, after reaching 20 return touchdowns for an NFL record last week, Devin Hestericon-article-link has reached mythical proportions — perhaps even Chuck Norris proportions.

Did you hear that Devin Hester counted to infinity — twice? Or that he can cut a hot knife with butter? Or that death once had a near-Devin Hester experience? Or that Devin Hester once raced a cheetah and won?

OK, maybe only one of those is true (as far as we know), and it happens to be the latter.

Last year, Hester combined with running back Chris Johnson to take on a cheetah in a race for a National Geographic special that aired in November and, despite the best efforts of the bunny-chasing cheetah, Hester won.

Check out the race here!




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Devin Hester's record-breaking return TD is best of Week 3

DevinHesterBears2
Was there ever any doubt who would find themselves at No. 1 in this week's Top 10 "Performance Moments of the Week" presented by Bridgestone?

Sure, Devin Hester's 62-yard touchdown return came with this Atlanta Falcons already up 28-0 over the hapless Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But it was vintage Hester, now arguably the greatest returner in NFL history with 20 punts and kicks taken back for six. Plus, the 31-year-old did it in Deion Sanders' house, in prime time, with "Primetime" and original return king Billy "White Shoes" Johnson in attendance. If there was a time to do it, no moment was better than Thursday night.

Also on the countdown: a pair of quarterback ... receptions? Bengals signal-caller Andy Dalton hauled in a pass from wide receiver Mohamed Sanu -- who has a perfect QB rating this season -- and avoiding a tackle from Titans cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson. The Red Rifle ran 18 yards and dove in for a TD, good for No. 2 on the list.

Down at No. 7, on a day when Russell Wilson led his Seattle Seahawks to a 26-20 overtime win against the Denver Broncos, he played pitch and catch with Jermaine Kearse, grabbing a 17-yard pass from the wideout.

Also making the countdown: Much later in that game, Broncos passer Peyton Manning orchestrated a game-tying touchdown drive, culminating in a pretty two-point conversion to Demaryius Thomas over Richard Sherman in the back of the end zone. ... In his first ever regular-season action, Jaguars rookie Blake Bortles found Allen Hurns, who broke out of a pair Colts defenders' tackles on his way to a 63-yard scoring scamper.


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(nfl.com)
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Peter King: Devin Hester has 'great chance' at HOF




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Watch Devin Hester's NFL Record-Breaking 20th Return For a TD




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Watch Devin Hester's First TD vs Tampa Bay on a Reverse




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Devin Hester Breaks Deion Sander's NFL TD Return Record

DevinHesterBears2
The two men were sitting together. One had just moved past the other for a place in the NFL record book. And neither could hide what they were feeling.

Devin Hester and Deion Sanders. Student and mentor. Hall of Famer and a player who might join him in Canton.

They were sharing an NFL Network stage inside the Georgia Dome ("MY house," Deion famously called it 20 years ago). Sanders was in the center of that stage as Hester, to his left, talked about a memorable play in a forgettable game.

As the panel's interview went on, Sanders could no longer hold back.

"I love you as a man, as a father, as a husband," Sanders told Hester, fighting tears. "I remember the beginning, man. I love you, dude. I'm so proud of you. You know that."



Sanders put his hand on Hester's shoulder, and Hester, too, became emotional. Heck, everyone on the set probably felt a catch in his throat. Hester then told the story of the first time Sanders called him, when Hester was at Miami. He finished it by telling Sanders that he appreciated everything that Sanders has done for him. Sanders pulled Hester toward him, and the tears again came to the surface.

Like that, a genuine primetime (and Prime Time) moment.

Hester set it in motion a couple hours earlier when he sped and weaved and high-stepped his way through the Bucs' punt coverage team for career return touchdown No. 20, one more than Sanders. It was a 56-yard work of art in a sloppy game that ended Atlanta 56, Tampa Bay 14. Hester hid his head in a towel after he returned to the Falcons' bench.

Sanders wasn't shocked that he witnessed history. Heck, he called it before the game. And Hester was determined to make it happen.

"I told you I was going to do it, man," Hester told Sanders on the postgame show.

"I'm gonna say it: I wasn't happy the last three, four years in Chicago, because things weren't going the way I expected," he said. "(I would) always have a great camp, have all the elder receivers and coaches saying I had the best camp, and then once the season started I'm not there."

Hester had just one catch Thursday, for 25 yards. He has seven receptions on the season. Still, he had nice things to say about the Falcons' offense. "I've got a quarterback (Matt Ryan) now (who) loves ... even the walk-ons, and coaches that know how to get the ball to me," he said.

It was that kind of night for Hester. Besides setting the record in front of Deion, his new team had just embarrassed an opponent that was being coached by one of his former bosses, Lovie Smith.

Everything had lined up just right, just like the blocking on a return that goes to the house. Everything felt just right.


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(sportingnews.com)
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Devin Hester unhappy at end of Chicago tenure

DevinHesterWallpaper
Jubilant and still emotional after high-stepping into league history Thursday night on a 56-yard punt return to collect his NFL-record 20th career return touchdown, former Chicago Bears return man Devin Hester admitted to feeling unhappy about his role in the final years of his tenure with the club that drafted him.

Hester played receiver for six years of his eight-year tenure in Chicago, but spent his final season (2013) working exclusively as a return man.

Now with the Atlanta Falcons, Hester scored on the return Thursday night as well as a 20-yard run in the first half of his team’s 56-14 shellacking of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, led by former Bears coach Lovie Smith.

“I’m gonna say it, man. I wasn’t happy the last three or four years in Chicago,” Hester said during the postgame show on NFL Network’s Total Access. “Things weren’t going the way I expected. I would always have a great camp; have all the receivers saying and all the coaches saying I had the best camp out of all the receivers. And then, once the season starts off, I’m not there.”

Hester didn’t elaborate, but sources have said he didn’t want to play receiver for the Bears in 2013.

Hester spent eight seasons with the Bears (2006-13) and participated in 123 games, racking up 11,632 all-purpose yards. The veteran spent parts of his career playing defensive back and receiver with the team. But last season, the Bears coaching staff and Hester mutually agreed he’d concentrate solely on duties as a return man.

Hester caught a career-high 57 passes for 757 yards and three touchdowns in 2009, quarterback Jay Cutler's first season with the team. But Hester and Cutler never clicked. Hester finished with 2,908 yards and 14 touchdowns, but caught just 23 passes in 2012, his final season playing receiver for the Bears.

“I’ve got a quarterback now that ... he loves even the walk-ons,” Hester said, “and coaches that know how to get the ball to me; how to make plays for me. I’m excited for this season, man. This is only the beginning for our team. It’s a team that knows how to utilize their talent. Everybody’s making plays, and we’ve got a team that, if you’re good at running this route, we don’t care if you’ve been a starter for 12 years. If this guy is two years in the league and he’s good at this route, we’re gonna let him run this route.”

A three-time Pro Bowler (2006, 2007 and 2010), Hester was named to the 2000s All-Decade team by The Associated Press and ESPN. He was the rookie recipient of the team's 2006 Brian Piccolo Award, which is elected by Bears players for teammates they feel best exemplify the courage, loyalty, teamwork, dedication and sense of humor of the late Piccolo.

But the team informed Hester in March he wouldn’t be returning for a ninth season in Chicago.

“For the past eight seasons, we have been honored to have Devin Hester as part of our organization,” Bears general manager Phil Emery said at the time. “While Devin has redefined the pinnacle standard of the return position in the NFL, the memories and contributions he has given us cannot be measured by stats or numbers.”

The Chicago Bears organization and former teammates showered Hester with praise and congratulatory words on Twitter after he broke Deion Sanders' record for return TDs.

Hester admitted that when he left Chicago, he was no longer the player he used to be. Still, he's plenty dangerous based off the performance against the Buccaneers.

"You hear rumors about, 'Man, he lost it.' You know, I lost it a little bit. I used to run a 4.2[-second 40-yard dash], but now I run 4.3," Hester joked. "I ain't gonna lie, I've lost it a little bit. But I've still got that hunger. As the years have grown, I've learned the game. I understand the game. I know what I'm capable of doing, and I know how to utilize and rally my troops. Those guys, I'm proud of them my blockers, because those guys wanted it just as badly as I did."


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(espn.com)
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Devin Hester forever tied to Lovie Smith

DevinHesterBears2
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- It was a devastating moment for Devin Hester, one that nearly caused him to run away from football.

Back in December 2012, the day Lovie Smith was fired as the head coach in Chicago, an emotional Hester addressed reporters in the Bears' locker room and contemplated retirement. He never imagined playing for another coach after establishing an everlasting bond with Smith.

"That situation goes so deep because he was the first coach who took a chance on me coming out of college in Miami," Hester said. "From that point, I just had so much respect for him. I'm a loyal guy, man. He'll always be one of my favorite coaches.

"The situation I was in back in Chicago, he was the only one that was going to bat for me. He was the only one who had the power to do it. I knew right then when he was gone, my career there was going to be pretty short."

Hester decided to gut out one more disappointing season in Chicago before signing with the Atlanta Falcons this offseason. Now, he'll face his former coach for the first time Thursday night as Smith's Tampa Bay Buccaneers come to the Georgia Dome.

"I just have so much respect for him not only as a person, but as a coach," Hester said. "He was fun to be around."

Smith is just as anxious about the reunion.

"Everyone who knows me knows that Devin's one of my favorites," Smith said. "He's one of my favorite players, talking just football. My first head job and I got to coach the greatest returner of all time. That was special, the things I was able to see him do with his hands on the ball.

"But when I talk about favorite, Devin Hester is family. This is a lifetime relationship we have here. Devin Hester is one of the best people you'll ever get a chance to meet."

Smith wanted to sign Hester in Tampa, particularly since the return game is something the Buccaneers are lacking. Hester also has a close tie with Buccaneers receivers coach Andrew Hayes-Stoker and would have been utilized on offense. In the end, the Falcons' three-year, $9 million deal to Hester that included $4 million guaranteed was something the Buccaneers couldn't match.

"I wanted Devin to get as much money as he possibly could," Smith said.

Hester also respects Smith for believing in him as a receiver. Hester actually came to the Bears as a return man/defensive back. In 2009, he had a career-high 57 catches for 757 yards and three touchdowns in then-offensive coordinator Ron Turner's scheme.

Critics often questioned Hester's ability to absorb the offensive playbook. Such talk annoyed Smith.

"It's a shame when you get labeled a little bit for something," Smith said. "I remember when Brandon Marshall first got there in Chicago and talked about how special Devin was as a receiver. If you're special with the ball, you're special with the ball. It's a shame what happened with him as a receiver in Chicago."

A big part of the problem was the lack of chemistry between Hester and quarterback Jay Cutler. It's no secret Cutler scolded Hester, at times. It led to Hester asking not to play offense his final season with the Bears.

"I don't know all the dynamics on that, but you've got to really search hard not to like Devin Hester," Smith said.

In Atlanta, Hester has opened eyes at receiver. He gives the Falcons another dynamic weapon alongside Julio Jones, Roddy White, and Harry Douglas. Hester has six catches for 101 yards with a long play of 35 yards. He had two touchdown receptions in preseason games.

"That's the great part about what Mike (Smith) has done along with Terry Robiskie and Dirk Koetter, to see that Devin can do more than just return kicks," Smith said.

In the return game, Hester sits one touchdown away from setting the NFL record for all-return touchdowns. He is currently tied with mentor Deion Sanders at 19.

Wouldn't it be something if No. 20 came against his old coach?

"He's a lifetime friend; I feel like he'll be a part of my family forever," Smith said. "And he's the greatest returner of all time. So when you're on the opposing sideline, you're not real happy about that."


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(espn.com)
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Lovie Smith not looking forward to facing Devin Hester

DevinHesterBears2
Q: How strange will it be for you facing Devin Hester?
A: I’m not really looking forward to that in one sense. I went and worked out Devin Hester at the University of Miami personally. I knew what we were going to get from him. He’s a lifetime friend. I feel like he’s going to be a part of my family forever. He’s only the greatest returner of all time. When you’re on the opposing sideline, you’re not real happy about that. It’s been great that he’s gotten an opportunity to really play wide receiver. He’s just a special player with his hands on the ball.


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(blog.ajc.com)
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Adam Jones says better than Hester

DevinHesterBears2
The NFL’s two most prolific punt returners square off in Sunday’s 1 p.m. Paul Brown Stadium opener against the Falcons.  Atlanta’s Devin Hester is the leader among active players with 13 touchdowns and Bengals cornerback Adam jones is second with five. But Jones has no doubts.

“I’m better,’ Jones said. “I didn’t play for 2.5 years.” …




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(bengals.com)
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#NFLU Week 1 proCane Wrap Up

FrankGore2
Every Tuesday we will wrap up the all the action from the previous week’s NFL action.

The Streak: Four proCanes scored (Allen Hurns (2 TDs), Greg Olsen (1 TD), Travis Benjamin (1 TD), Lamar Miller (1 TD)) to extend the TD Streak to 7 straight weeks a proCane has scored an NFL touchdown. As reminder the record is 149 straight weeks.

Allen Hurns, Jaguars: Hurns caught four passes for 110 yards and two touchdowns. He became the first undrafted rookie to catch two touchdowns in his first game since the New York Giants’ Bobby Johnson in 1984. Two catches, two touchdowns, Hurns became the second NFL rookie to ever do that, joining Detroit’s Charles Rogers. Hurns also ended up playing the 2nd most amount of snaps among WRs behind Antonio Brown. Hurns has out-produced both receivers the Jaguars selected in the second round of the NFL draft in May. Not bad for an undrafted rookie

Andre Johnson, Texans: Johnson moved past Redskins legend Art Monk into 16th place in NFL history in receiving yards. Johnson, who hauled in six passes for 93 yards, has 12,754 yards in his 12 professional seasons.

Frank Gore, 49ers : Gore just the 29th running back in NFL history to reach the 10,000-yard mark, and just the 10th to eclipse the milestone with one franchise. With a four-yard run in the third quarter, Gore became one of just three active running backs in the 10,000-yard club. He is also just the second #proCane to do it; Edgerrin James ranks 10th all-time with 12,279 yards.

Devin Hester, Falcons: The Falcons promised to use Hester also as a WR this season, and so far they have fulfilled that promise. Hester caught 5-of-6 targets for 99 yards in the Falcons' Week 1 win over the Saints.

Seantrel Henderson, Bills: Henderson, who was drafted in seventh round of the year’s NFL Draft started his first NFL game in week 1 beating out 2nd round Bills draft pick Cyrus Kouandjo.

Greg Olsen: 8 catches, 83 yards, 1 TD
Allen Bailey: 2 tackles, 1 sack, 1 TFL
Reggie Wayne: Back from injury: 9 catches, 98 yards
Vince Wilfork: Back from injury: 2 tackles


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Devin Hester makes big impact at receiver in Atlanta Falcons debut

DevinHesterBears2
FLOWERY BRANCH, Georgia — Before the Atlanta Falcons decided to sign Devin Hester, they wanted to make sure he wasn't content just returning kickoffs and punts.

Hester persuaded the team there was more to his game.

Then he went out and proved it in his debut with the Falcons.

Hester made five catches for 99 yards, including a key reception in the final minute of regulation that set up the tying field goal against the New Orleans Saints.
The Falcons won in overtime, 37-34.

"It was not the least bit surprising," coach Mike Smith insisted Monday.

Then again, there was plenty of skepticism after the Falcons doled out big money to sign Hester as a free agent. While no one doubts he is perhaps the greatest return specialist in NFL history, it seemed unlikely the 31-year-old would make much of an impact when the offense was on the field.

After all, he had not caught a pass for Chicago since December 2012. His last significant contribution as a receiver came four years ago, when he had 40 receptions and four touchdowns with the Bears.

"We sat down with him and had a very frank conversation, what our thoughts were and what we wanted him to bring to the table," Smith recalled. "He told us he was not just a return man, he was a wide receiver, too, and one who could help us. He told he would come here to compete for playing time in the wide receiver group."

The Falcons seemed largely set at that position, with Julio Jones and Roddy White both healthy, joined by emerging third receiver Harry Douglas, who had a career-leading 85 receptions last season when the two starters were hit with injuries.

But Hester, who is only 5-foot-10, still has plenty of speed and shiftiness. He gives quarterback Matt Ryan another target who can work out of the slot in much the same way as Douglas, helping to compensate for retirement of tight end Tony Gonzalez.

For one game, at least, it went about as well as the Falcons could've hoped.

While the defense struggled to stop Drew Brees and the Saints, Ryan spread the field and threw for a franchise-record 448 yards. Overall, the Falcons piled up a staggering 568 yards in total offense.

Jones had seven catches for 116 yards. White hauled in five receptions for 72 yards, including a touchdown. Douglas grabbed six passes for 69 yards. Gonzalez's replacement, Levine Toilolo, chipped in with three catches and a TD. All four running backs had a catch as well, including a short throw that Antone Smith turned into a 54-yard score.

"We came out," Hester said, "knowing that it was going to be a tough fight, knowing points were going to be thrown on the board left and right. And with Drew Brees, knowing the type of offense that he runs, we were going to have to put up a lot of points. As a receiver, we knew that it was going to come down to us."

The Falcons don't expect those numbers from Hester every game, but hope the opener will lead teams to shade more coverages in his direction. That would open up more opportunities for Jones and White.

"That's really what it's all about when you have playmakers," Smith said. "The more you have, the better opportunity you have to move the football and score points."

Hester didn't have much impact in the return game, bringing back one kickoff for 21 yards and one punt for just 1 yard. Smith said that could change when the team gets away from the Georgia Dome, where ideal conditions make it easier to position punts or boom kickoffs through the end zone.

The Falcons (1-0) travel to Cincinnati on Sunday to face the Bengals (1-0).

"We didn't want him to come here just to be a punt and kick returner," Smith said. "He told us he would help win games any way he could."
Early on, he's been true to his word.


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(tribtown.com)
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Devin Hester hauls in five balls for 99 yards

DevinHesterBears2
Devin Hester caught 5-of-6 targets for 99 yards in the Falcons' Week 1 win over the Saints.

The Falcons made it clear they planned to use Hester in the passing game during the preseason, and made good on that promise Week 1. Hester made several big plays against New Orleans, and looked dangerous with the ball in his hands. Still, we have seen the Hester as a wide receiver movie enough times to know this will not work out in the long run. He is best left on the waiver wire.


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(rotoworld.com)
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Douglas taunts Devin Hester over U of L-Miami result

DevinHesterBears2
Devin Hester returned a punt back for a touchdown that gave Miami the lead in its 2004 victory over the University of Louisville. Harry Douglas caught four passes for 94 yards two years later when the Cardinals avenged that loss against the Hurricanes.

Monday's third regular-season meeting between the two schools in a decade meant there was a score to settle.

Now an Atlanta Falcons teammates of Douglas, Hester is still hearing about U of L's 31-13 season-opening victory over Miami from Monday. On Wednesday, as he showed up for interviews, Douglas' No. 85 U of L Orange Bowl jersey was hanging at Hester's locker.

Hester looked none too happy about it, either, in a photo posted to Twitter by ESPN's Vaughn McClure.





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(usatoday.com)
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Devin Hester hopes the Hall of Fame door is open to special teamers

DevinHesterWallpaper
Devin Hester watched with interest as punter Ray Guy was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Hester liked seeing someone get a bust in Canton for contributions on special teams because Hester is hoping to join Guy in the Hall some day.

“When you talk about the Hall of Fame, you really don’t talk about special teams,” Hester told the Chicago Sun-Times. “You talk running back, linebacker, receiver, quarterback kind of guys. The first time a special-teams guy made the Hall of Fame — he just opened up the window for everyone else.”

Guy wasn’t actually the first special teams guy to make the Hall of Fame (that would be kicker Jan Stenerud), but Hester said he thinks Guy’s induction may have been a positive sign for Hester’s own chances. And Hester believes he has nothing left to prove and has already earned a spot in the Hall of Fame.
‘‘I pretty much have all the return records,’’ he said.

Hester owns the all-time NFL records for combined special teams touchdowns in a career, combined kick return touchdowns in a season and punt return touchdowns for both a season and a career. Is that enough to get Hester in the Hall of Fame? He thinks so. But if the voters are as skeptical about Hester as they were about Guy, Hester will have to wait until he’s an old man to enjoy his Hall of Fame induction.


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(profootballtalk.com)
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Devin Hester wanted to stay with Bears

DevinHesterBears2
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Devin Hester doesn’t follow the Bears’ search for their next kick returner.

‘‘All I hear is them trying to compare whoever’s back there with me,’’ he said.

Filling the shoes of perhaps the best returner in NFL history might not fair to Chris Williams, Eric Weems and the others. But Hester, sitting in the end zone at Atlanta Falcons camp Saturday, didn’t seem sympathetic.

‘‘I just look at it as a compliment,’’ he said. ‘‘That’s like any kid growing up playing basketball. They want to be the next Michael Jordan.’’

Hester, another famous No. 23, said he signed a three-year, $9 million deal with the Falcons in March only after it became the clear the Bears didn’t want him back. He wanted to retire with the Bears — ‘‘because of the things that happened there, that I accomplished as an individual and we did as a team,’’ he said — but was met with reality, like others before him.

‘‘It’s not like I had a choice to sign with them again,’’ he said. ‘‘They didn’t even call me to let me know they were willing to bring me back. I didn’t hear from them at all. It made it a lot easier for me to say, ‘OK,’ and then go look for another team.’’

Hester narrowed his choices to three teams: Lovie Smith’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Arizona Cardinals and the Falcons. When the Falcons heard he planned to visit Arizona, they suggested Hester fly his wife and two young children to Atlanta.

‘‘You want to go to the team that shows the most interest because those are the ones that really want you,’’ he said.

Not that it has been easy. Hester found a home near the Falcons’ practice facility but needs GPS to go almost every-where else. He rode to the team’s preseason opener Friday with running back Antone Smith, who had to show him the way to the home locker room at the Georgia Dome.

Hester wore No. 17 — his and his younger son’s birthdates subtracted from his wife’s and older son’s birthdates — and asked the Falcons to play the same Rick Ross tune the Bears did before his returns.

He lined up at receiver, too — Hester wants to play 10 or 12 snaps there per game — after a year of being exclusively a returner with the Bears.

The night was strange.

‘‘It’s a learning process,’’ Hester said. ‘‘Like starting all over again.’’

His career doesn’t need a rewrite. Hester’s 13 punt
returns for touchdowns are the most of all time, and his combined 19 return touchdowns — including on five kickoffs and one on a missed field goal — are tied with Deion Sanders for the most in history.

When punter Ray Guy entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the odds of Hester being awarded a gold jacket improved.

‘‘When you talk about the Hall of Fame, you really don’t talk about special teams,’’ Hester said. ‘‘You talk running back, linebacker, receiver, quarterback kind of guys. The first time a special-teams guy made the Hall of Fame — he just opened up the window for everyone else.’’

Hester said he thinks he
belongs in the Hall ‘‘once my
career is said and done’’ and said he doesn’t have to prove anything else.

‘‘I pretty much have all the return records,’’ he said.

If that Hall of Fame day comes, he’ll go in as a member of the Bears, the team the Falcons will host Oct. 12 and the team he might return to, even if only ceremonially, to retire.

‘‘We’ll see how we’re feeling, if both parties can come up with an agreement,’’ Hester said. ‘‘Who knows? Maybe so.’’


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(suntimes.com)
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Big Plans For Devin Hester On Offense

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Devin Hester found his niche in the NFL by way of kick returns. During his time with the Chicago Bears, the team essentially gave up on him as a wide receiver and kept him as a special teams star. He has not played an offensive snap since 2006 when he was a rookie. However, now he is with the Atlanta Falcons and the team plans on changing that after seeing the skill set he has on the field.

Hester will not only serve as the resident kick return specialist, but he will also return to his original role as a wide receiver. Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter has big plans for Hester in the upcoming season and not all of them include special teams. Referring to the veteran as a true weapon, Hester will join the wide receiver rotation once again.

"When we picked up Devin I personally wasn't sure if he was going to be more than a returner for us ," Koetter said, via the Atlanta Journal Constitution. "I've been very happy, as have all of the coaches, with how Devin has taken to the wide receiver stuff. (Assistant coach) Terry Robiskie has done an awesome job with him and the other receivers have helped him. Devin is going to be an exciting player, definitely a weapon that we added in the offseason that's going to help."

While Hester does own the NFL record for combined punt and kick return touchdowns, the Falcons need him as a full-time wide receiver to help with depth. Last season, the receiving corps took a huge hit when Julio Jones and Roddy White went down with injuries. Having both players back plus 2013's breakout star, Harry Douglas, will help the offense regain its form, but adding Hester could take it to another level.

"The thing that people don't understand," Jones said, via TheMMQB.com's Peter King, "is that for us, he's not just going to be a returner. We've seen it out here. He can help us as a receiver, and he is helping us."

The addition of Hester helps make up for the fact that Tony Gonzalez is no longer on the team and that Steven Jackson is once again nursing a hamstring injury. The Falcons are relying on Jacquizz Rodgers and Devonta Freeman for the ground game. Early reports surrounding the rookie have been mixed as Koetter says he is having some growing pains adjusting to everything in Atlanta.


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(sportsworldreport.com)
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Coaches Excited About Devin Hester On Offense

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When news came of the addition of Devin Hester to the Falcons roster, offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter barely looked up. Hester came with the reputation of being perhaps the best returnman in NFL history but his offensive resume didn't exactly stand out.

Once Hester arrived in Flowery Branch, all that changed. He's got Koetter's attention now.

Fans have wondered just what Hester's role could possibly be in an offense already crowded at wide receiver with Roddy White, Julio Jones and Harry Douglas. After all, there's only one ball to go around, but Koetter sounds confident that Hester can play a big role in what the Falcons are planning to do in 2014.

"I've been very happy, as have all the coaches, with how Devin has taken to the wide receiver stuff," Koetter said Thursday. "Terry Robiskie has done an awesome job with him. The other receivers are helping him and Devin's going to be an exciting player — definitely a weapon that we added in the offseason that's going to help."

When the Falcons coaches see Hester on the practice fields in Flowery Branch, they see potential and capability. There's not much more to go on for a wide receiver who hasn't come close to surpassing 1,000 receiving yards in his career.

Instead, the coaching staff can only go on what they've seen so far from him in XFINITY® Atlanta Falcons Training Camp sessions and it's enough to make them think that, while 1,000 yards isn't what they'll need from him, a play here or there that goes for a big gain could be enough of a role for Hester that pushes the Falcons' offense to an unstoppable level.

"He’s got the capability of playing and playing fast," Robiskie said. "He’s going to do some things and make some plays for us that I think, at the end of the day, when we get a chance to sit down, we'll say, 'Wow I didn’t know that’s what I was getting when I got him'

"Like I tell him every day: There’s not one person (here) who really gives a crap about what you did in Chicago. I’m happy for you that you’re in the record book. I think I’m in there, too. But can you help us win a Super Bowl? We need your help. I think he’s going to do some good things for us."


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Devin Hester's top returns: No. 1

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We conclude our series on new Atlanta Falcons return specialist Devin Hester and his top 5 returns, as he ranked them. Hester set an NFL record with 18 kick-return scores in eight seasons with the Chicago Bears and is tied with Deion Sanders for the NFL record with 19 career returns for scores (including a return of a missed field goal).

Here is the return Hester ranked the best of them all:

The scenario: The Bears trailed the Cardinals 20-0 at halftime during Hester's rookie season and were still down 23-10 with just under six minutes left in regulation. After cornerback Charles Tillman scored the Bears' second defensive touchdown off a fumble recovery, the stage was set for Hester's late-game heroics. He fielded a Scott Player punt with 3:17 remaining, followed a block up the middle, swerved by a pair of defenders, then made a quick cut to elude Player en route to an 83-yard touchdown. Thanks to Hester and a missed 41-yard field goal by Cardinals kicker Neil Rackers, the Bears escaped with a 24-23 win to move to 6-0 despite not scoring an offensive touchdown. The dramatic ending set off an unforgettable post-game rant by Cardinals coach Dennis Green, who claimed, "The Bears are who we thought they were ... and we let them off the hook."

Hester's take: "The top one was Arizona. It just brought back memories of the Louisville game I had at Miami where it was a prime-time game. We played Louisville that Thursday night, and we played Arizona on (Monday) night. Same situation: We're down late in the game and then we take a punt return to the house that changed the whole momentum and won the game."

Blocker's perspective: "For me personally, it was special and electric because I was playing against my brother and my whole family was at the game. We knew we were going to get it done on special teams. Coach (Dave) Toub said all week we were going to score, but we thought we could score every game. Toub pulled us all over on the sideline and he's like, 'We're going to score. This is our chance. This is the return we're running.' He told me, 'If you can block it, block it. And the return is going to go away from you.' That means I would get to be in the wall to escort Devin in. So I knew I was going to hold up my guy. We're talking fourth quarter, end of the game: They kicked our [butt] the first half and all of a sudden, our defense starting kicking their [butts]. And it's not often that you have a special teams unit that can change a ballgame. We had one of those teams. Toub made the call, and it was a green return. We had yellow and green -- which meant a right return. So I tried to block the punt, and I barely missed it. So I got up off the ground and told myself to hustle so I could set this wall. So I picked off a guy. Then I picked off another guy. Devin's still running and all of a sudden, I'm playing basketball out there setting screens. I'm out there doing iron crosses and Devin's wiggling all the way to the end zone. We just erupted. There was nothing like that feeling, being a special teams guy. I was like playing for the '85 Bears and playing on defense. It was probably the best special teams unit to ever exist in NFL history. That was us those two years with Devin Hester. That was definitely us." Linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, who provided the key block on Hester's most memorable return.


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Devin Hester's top returns: No. 3

DevinHesterBears2
We continue our series with new Atlanta Falcons return man Devin Hester as he reflects on his five greatest returns during his record-setting stint with the Chicago Bears. Hester holds the NFL record with 18 kick-return touchdowns. This is the one he ranked third on his list:

Scene: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisconsin (Sept. 10, 2006).

Scenario: Hester, a second-round pick of the Bears out of the University of Miami in 2006, came to the team as a defensive back but was known for his unique return ability in college. In his first-ever NFL game, he stepped back to field a Jon Ryan punt early in the fourth quarter with the Bears already enjoying a 19-0 lead. Hester fielded the 50-yard punt at his own 16-yard line, took two steps left but cut it back right when he saw a double team on the gunner. Hester followed two blocks down the right sideline by fellow rookie Mark Anderson and Charles Tillman and sprinted to a 84-yard touchdown. Hester's score capped a 26-0 win as the Bears handed Mike McCarthy a blowout loss in his coaching debut and shut out Brett Favre for the first time as he entered his 16th NFL season.

Hester's take: "Just because it was my first, first game in the NFL, period. For me to set the tone for myself, from just everyone talking about the things I did in college where impossible to do in the league. Being the first game of my NFL career and being able to take one back, it was kind of unheard of for a rookie. I think it was Peanut (Charles Tillman) and somebody else out there blocking.''

Blocker's perspective: ``I just remember that basically, all I had to do was get in the way. Was I amazed? Not really because I already saw what he could do during practice. It was just a matter of him getting a chance to do it in a game. And he did.'' Defensive end Mark Anderson, who cleared Hester's path to the end zone with a block on the punter Ryan.

Thursday: Happy return


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Devin Hester's top returns: No. 5

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The Atlanta Falcons signed Devin Hester, one of the greatest return men of all time, to a three-year, $9 million deal this offseason.

He currently holds the NFL record with 18 combined kick-return scores -- 13 on punts and five on kickoffs during his eight seasons with the Chicago Bears. He is one away from surpassing mentor and former Falcon Deion Sanders for the most total return touchdowns in NFL history.

Hester's total doesn't even include his 92-yard touchdown off the opening kick in Super Bowl XLI.

Hester, 31, ranked his top five touchdown returns for ESPN.com. Over the next five days, we will review those returns, leading up to Hester's favorite.

Here is No. 5.

Scene: Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis (Dec. 11, 2006)

Scenario: The Bears led 35-20 with just less than eight minutes remaining in regulation. With the Rams attempting a late comeback, the Bears prepared for the probable onside kick. Special-teams coordinator Dave Toub sent the "hands team" onto the field -- but the Rams boldly decided to kick the ball deep to Hester, who had already returned a kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter. Hester sidestepped two defenders at his own 15-yard line, exploded through the hole and darted left, then blazed right by falling kicker Jeff Wilkins en route to a 96-yard score. Hester turned and taunted at the Rams' 25-yard line, then impersonated Sanders while high-stepping to the end zone.

The pair of scores were Hester's fourth and fifth kick-return touchdowns of the season, setting an NFL season record that he broke the next season. The Bears won the game 42-27.

Hester's take: "Coach Dave was saying we never had a kickoff return [for a score] on the hands team. When you put the hands team out there, you just make sure your guys don't give up on the onside kick. And you got guys out there that are not used to blocking. So, for them to kick it deep, it shocked us. And I took one back earlier that game. Even myself, I was thinking, 'It's going to be an onside kick. I hope it doesn't go through the guys and I have to run up and try to get it.' … He blooped it, and it wasn't like I could take a knee. And so I hit it through the hole and off to the races. And I think that was one when I set a record."

Blocker's perspective: "I'd like to think I was the one who sprung him for the touchdown because he ran right behind my block. When you go in on hands team, you're never thinking you're going to get a return. You're thinking recover the onside kick and get down. I believe that they lined up in a regular formation, but we stayed in our hands look. When they kicked it off deep, at that point, a lot of the times you're just kind of scattering. But Coach Toub, he always did a good job of having the special teams ready. You knew who you had to block. When you know you've got Devin back there, you stay on that block a little bit longer because you know if [you] give him a shot, he can take it all the way, and that's what happened.

"I remember looking at that film, and guys were on their men, but it wasn't like a regular kickoff return. Guys were kind of just hanging on. Once he found that lane … I would say that most of that was him. Everybody was like, 'There he goes. Uh-oh, damn, that's a touchdown!' Nobody was expecting him to take that all the way back to the house [end zone] because you don't practice a return off of the hands team a lot, if at all."
-- Desmond Clark, tight end and member of hands team


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Devin Hester expected to lift Falcons' special teams

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ATLANTA — As the ball sailed through the air, special-teams coordinator Keith Armstrong had a smile on his face.

When the ball came down, returner extraordinaire Devin Hester cradled the punt and made his way up field during the Falcons’ OTA practice Wednesday.

It was the second of 10 practices allowed by the league and the first that was open to media.

Armstrong was delighted to see his new pupil, perhaps the most-feared returner to play the game — Deion Sanders notwithstanding — make the catch and weave his way through imaginary traffic during the non-contact drills.

“I think that one thing that I really enjoy at this point in time is the way he’s approaching it,” Armstrong said. “He’s approaching it like a pro. He’s not approaching it like, ‘hey, I’ve been there before.’ He knows and understands that this is a different team, and he’s working his tail off.”

Since he was drafted by the Chicago Bears out of Miami in the second round of the 2006 draft, Hester, 31, has terrorized special-teams coverage units league-wide for eight seasons.

Hester, who was voted to the all-decade team for the first decade of the 2000s, signed a three-year contract worth $9 million with the Falcons in March.

He holds the NFL record for the most return touchdowns (punt and kickoffs combined) with 18 and has the most punt returns for touchdowns with 13. Also, he’s had 34 career fumbles and lost seven of them.

“My role is going to be pretty much kickoff and punt return,” Hester said. “I’ll take over full responsibility of that duty, and as far as on offense here and there.”
The Bears didn’t re-sign Hester, and he became a free agent.

“I don’t think I have to prove anything. You know, my stats and my play ability that I did over the past couple of years speaks for itself,” Hester said. “I just have to go out and concentrate on the techniques and little things like that and I should be pretty good.”

The Falcons, who haven’t had a lethal return man since Allen Rossum left after the 2006 season, are counting on Hester striking fear into the opposition. They haven’t had an above-average return man since Eric Weems left to sign with Chicago after the 2011 season.

“The good thing about Dev is that he brings a lot of fear,” wide receivers coach Terry Robiskie said. “There is a fear factor around the NFL because people know what that guy has done. They know that he’s a home-run hitter. That’s going to be exciting for us.”

In addition to Hester, the Falcons had wide receiver Harry Douglas and cornerbacks Robert McClain, Robert Alford and Javier Arenas fielding punts. McClain ended last season as the main punt returner.

Running back Jacquizz Rodgers has been the kickoff returner the past two seasons.

Armstrong hopes that having Hester will help lift the level of play across the special-teams units.

“When guys know that somebody is back there, and it started happening with Robert McClain last year at the end of the season, when guys know that the guy knows how to hit (a seam), they are going to start blocking harder,” Armstrong said. “That urgency will pick up.”

When and if Hester needs a break, Armstrong is much more comfortable with the depth behind him.

The Falcons also want to use Hester as a wide receiver. He caught 57 passes in 2009, but was phased out of the passing game last season in Chicago and didn’t catch a pass.

“Chicago did a good job with him (earlier in his career), moving him around and doing some things with him,” Robiskie said. “I think we’ll do the same. To sit down and say, he’s going to be a slot or he’s going to be an outside (receiver) … we are going to try to move him around and match him up on some people and hopefully see if we can get some mismatches.”

Armstrong looks forward to unleashing Hester.

“It’s like anything else, when we were going against him, guys knew that you went to bed at night, you went to sleep with your fist balled up,” Armstrong said. “It’s the same thing. Now, that he’s on our team, we’ll see the best that other people have.”


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(albanyherald.com)
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Frank Gore, Antrel Rolle, Devin Hester, Reggie Wayne, Andre Johnson, Vince Wilfork named to CBS Sports' Under-25 vs. Over-30 teams

FrankGore2
This year's prolonged stretch between the end of the 2013 season and the 2014 NFL Draft has left media outlets with a little more room to get creative with ideas in trying to fill the time until actual football happens again.

One of the main strategies in this endeavor is to put out a series of NFL All-Something teams. In an original wrinkle, CBS Sports took this a step further by having two of their football writers come up with an All-Under-25 team and an All-Over-30 team and then comparing them side-by-side with the goal of seeing who could come up with the better roster.

For the matchup, CBS Sports enlisted columnist Pete Prisco to come up with an Under-25 team to go up against columnist Pat Kirwan's Over-30 team.
As expected, both writers think their team is superior. Regardless, proCanes were represented on the Over-30 team with six. Zero proCanes made the under-25 team which speaks to the State of The Hurricanes teams the last few years.

Here's where they landed:
Over-30 Team, Pat Kirwan

Running back: The claim is never let a 30 year old in your backfield. Well, think again. My top choices are Frank Gore, DeAngelo Williams, Fred Jackson and Darren Sproles. I'll start Frank Gore but have Sproles ready for third down.

AndreJohnson2
Wide receiver: I found 10 receivers I would like on the ol' boys team; Larry Fitzgerald, Reggie Wayne, Andre Johnson, Brandon Marshall, Vincent Jackson, Anquan Boldin, Roddy White, Wes Welker and Steve Smith. I can't have them all but I'll take Larry Fitzgerald and Brandon Marshall with Welker in the slot.
Starters: Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals (30) and Brandon Marshall, Bears (30)
Reserves: Wes Welker (32), Andre Johnson (32), Vincent Jackson (31)

Defensive tackles: Good luck running the ball against Haloti Ngata and Vince Wilfork with 700 lbs. of beef inside. When they need a rest or its time to rush the passer I have to decide between Kyle Williams, Justin Tuck and Darnell Dockett. Those three had 26 sacks between them last year.
Starters: Haloti Ngata, Ravens (30) and Vince Wilfork, Patriots (32)

AntrelRolleGiants2
Safeties: Guys who play safety for 10 years may lose a step but they can read a quarterbackand get him to do things a young safety hasn't even though of yet. My starters for the clash of the young and old will be Troy Polamalu and Antrel Rolle. If I want to go "big nickel" and bring an extra safety, Dashon Goldson and LaRon Landry are available.
Starters: Antrel Rolle, Giants (31) and Troy Polamalu, Steelers (32)

Special teams: Stephen Gostkowski just turned 30 and he was five for six on 50+ attempts but I could always call up Vinateri or any number of the kickers. Jon Ryan, punter for the Seahawks, only allowed 21 returns for a total of 82 yards the whole season and 28 punts inside the 20. Devin Hester can handle the returns with his 13 for touchdowns over his career.
Starters: Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots (30), Jon Ryan, Seahawks (32), Devin Hester, Falcons (31)


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Top Bears Draft Picks: #22 Devin Hester

DevinHesterBears2
As the NFL Draft approaches, Grizzly Detail is counting down the Top 30 draft picks in Chicago Bears history. In order to qualify for this list, a player must have worn a Bears uniform for at least five seasons (sorry Rosevelt Colvin and Wilber Marshall), and players who were selected in lower rounds of the draft will have an advantage in this countdown.

We continue the countdown with the greatest kick returner in NFL history, as Devin Hester checks into our list in the #22 slot.

The Details:
Drafted in the second round of the 2006 NFL Draft, Hester immediately burst onto the scene with the Bears and set about smashing records throughout the NFL. In his first season alone, Hester picked up five touchdown returns (three punts, two kick-offs), and transformed the Bears’ special teams unit from an asset into an explosive phase of the game.

Overall in his career with the Bears, Hester returned 13 punts for touchdowns and added five more kick-off returns for scores, including a career long 98-yarder during the 2011 season. He has since moved on to greener pastures with the Atlanta Falcons, but his legacy will remain strong for what he did during his tenure with the team that drafted him.

Career Highlights:
If there is any one moment in Hester’s career that will define him, it will be the kick-off return that opened Super Bowl XLI that will be remembered forever. His cut up the field to start the game against the Indianapolis Colts electrified the soaking wet crowd in Miami, and even though the joy was short-lived as the Bears went on to be trounced in the game, it was still a stirring reminder of the magic he was capable of.

Hester naturally had his share of bad moments in addition to those moments of glory. He never really stood out when he was playing defensive back for the Bears, the position at which he was drafted, and even when he transitioned to wide receiver later in his career, he didn’t fare much better. He did snare 14 touchdown grabs in 123 games, but his effectiveness was limited by poor route running and an inability to adjust to coverages that teams would throw at him.
It was ultimately that inability to stand out as a wide-out that led Marc Trestman to put Hester in strictly for return duties during the 2013 season, and likely was the reason why the team did not re-sign him when his contract expired. The move ruffled some feathers, including those of linebacker Lance Briggs, but the team simply couldn’t afford to keep a luxury item like Hester at the price that other teams were willing to pay for his services.

Our Reasoning:
As the only special teamer on this list, Hester certainly is worthy of the slot at which he ended up. He redefined the expectations for what a kick returner can do during his time with the team, and despite his failure to adjust effectively to the wide receiver position, he still managed to make a huge impact with the squad.

That being said, Hester would have ranked higher both if he had managed to play another position besides that of a return man AND if he had continued the stellar production that he put up in his first few years in the league. He was slowed considerably by the adjustments teams made when they were kicking (or more often, not kicking) to him, but the fact is that he lost a step after those first few seasons, and didn’t keep the closing speed that made him such a lethal weapon in the first place.


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Devin Hester's heart still in Chicago

DevinHesterBears2
Return man Devin Hester departed for the Atlanta Falcons via free agency, but it’s clear he’d like to still be with the Chicago Bears.

Hester made that apparent Wednesday with a couple of posts on his Twitter account.

@D_Hest23: “To all my Bears fans I never wanted to leave the Bears, the organization decided to go another route with me. The things I did in Chicago”

@D_Hest23 : ”probably would never happen again and I always wanted to retire as a Bears pic.twitter.com/

Hester’s correct that there’s a good chance his exploits in Chicago won’t ever be duplicated, but he shouldn’t dismiss the possibility of eventually retiring as a Bear. From the looks of everything, the sides parted on good terms. When the Bears announced they wouldn’t be re-signing Hester, general manager Phil Emery put out a complimentary statement, thanking the return man for his contributions over the years.

One team source even said that “Devin holds a very special place for me. He is loved and well-respected by everybody. This is one of the harsh realities of the business aspect of the NFL.”

“For the past eight seasons we have been honored to have Devin Hester as a part of our organization,” Emery said in a statement. “While Devin has redefined the pinnacle standard of the return position in the NFL, the memories and contributions he has given us cannot be measured by stats or numbers. Not only is Devin a special player, he is also an exceptional person. He is a great teammate, husband and father. Devin represented the organization off the field as well as he did on it. When his career is over, he will always be a welcome member of the Bears family. We thank him for his dedication and wish his family the best.”

Hester finished the 2013 season averaging 27.6 yards per kickoff return and 14.2 yards on punt returns, and is the NFL’s all-time leader in punt return touchdowns (13) and total kick return TDs (18). In all, Hester has produced 20 return TDs, which is an NFL record.


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Devin Hester makes poor return on Riverwoods house sale

DevinHesterBears2
Former Chicago Bear Devin Hester has sold his 10,000-square-foot Riverwoods home after cutting the price three times and raising it once.

Mr. Hester, who is now with the Atlanta Falcons, initially listed the seven-bedroom, eight-bath home on Lyndale Lane in mid-April 2013, asking $2.63 million. By early January, a series of cuts had taken the list price down by one-third, to $1.75 million. Later that month, the price went back up, to $1.99 million.

The sale closed March 31 at $1.8 million, according to Midwest Real Estate Data LLC. That's down 18 percent from the $2.2 million he paid for it in October 2008, according to the Lake County Recorder of Deeds. That year, he signed a $40 million, four-year contract with the Bears, where he had been for two years. Last month, the 31-year-old return specialist signed a three-year contract with the Falcons.

Mr. Hester married Zingha Walcott in 2010; they have one child. His brother, Lenorris Hester Jr., also lived in the Riverwoods home during the Bears' season, according to news reports.

Built in 2005, the house is on 2.5 acres and has a tennis court, a hot tub, a waterfall, an outdoor kitchen and a pond, according to the listing prepared by Lori Progar, the Coldwell Banker agent who represented the property. Listing photos show a wood-trimmed curving staircase, numerous interior arches, a basement pub and a backyard playground. The house also has a nanny's quarters and two laundry rooms.

Ms. Progar did not respond to a request for comment, nor did Roman Anoufriev of All Time Realty, the agent for the buyers.


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(chicagobusiness.com)
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Breaking down Devin Hester's contract

DevinHesterBears2
New Atlanta Falcons return man/receiver Devin Hester didn't shy away from his original asking price.

Hester sought $3 to $4 million per year once the Chicago Bears didn't re-sign him and he hit the open market. Had the Tampa Bay Buccaneers reached that figure, Hester probably would be preparing to return kicks for a different NFC South team this coming season.

Instead, Hester got his $3 million per year in a three-year contract with the Falcons that included a $2.5 million signing bonus. Here's how Hester's contract breaks down by year:

Here is a breakdown of Devin Hester's contract by year:

2014
Cap value: $1.833,333
Cash value: $3.5 million
Base salary: $1 million ($1 million guaranteed)

2015
Cap value: $3,333,333
Cash value: $2.5 million
Base salary: $2.5 million ($500,000 guaranteed)

2016
Cap value: $3,833,334
Cash value: $3 million
Base salary: $3 million
Escalators in 2015 & 2016


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Devin Hester reaches deal with Falcons

DevinHesterBears2
Former Bears kick returner Devin Hester agreed to terms on a three-year deal with the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday.

Hester became available in free agency after the Bears informed him that he would not be re-signed after eight memorable seasons with the team. There were said to be a handful of suitors for Hester, who had a recent visit with the Falcons.

Hester spent all of the 2013 season solely as a return specialist and his place on the Bears came into question. Chris Williams, Domenik Hixon and Michael Ford will compete for the Bears’ kickoff and punt returner openings.

Interestingly enough, the Falcons host the Bears in 2014, so they’ll get a chance to contain (or kick away from) Hester.

A three-time Pro Bowler, Hester is the NFL’s all-time leader in punt return touchdowns (13) and total kick return touchdowns (18).


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(suntimes.com)
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Devin Hester Takes His First Visit As A Free Agent

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Though the Dolphins have inquired about Devin Hester, his agent said they hadn’t booked a visit as of Tuesday. Hester made his first visit to Atlanta today…. Notre Dame offensive tackle Zack Martin continues to make the most sense for Miami at No. 19, but ESPN’s Mel Kiper said Pittsburgh might take him at 15.



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(miamiherald.com)
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Bears wish Devin Hester many happy returns

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The Chicago Bears did not re-sign standout return specialist Devin Hester for the 2014 season.

"For the past eight seasons, we have been honored to have Devin Hester as a part of our organization," Bears general manager Phil Emery said. "While Devin has redefined the pinnacle standard of the return position in the NFL, the memories and contributions he has given us cannot be measured by stats or numbers.

Hester, 31, is the NFL's all-time leader in punt return touchdowns (13) and total kick return touchdowns (18). Including his 108-yard missed field goal return touchdown, Hester's 19 overall return touchdowns are tied with Hall of Famer Deion Sanders for the most in regular-season history. When adding Hester's 92-yard kickoff return touchdown to open Super Bowl XLI, his 20 overall return touchdowns (including the postseason) are an NFL record.

In 123 games played (46 starts) over eight seasons (2006-'13), Hester's 3,241 punt return yards are eighth most in NFL history and his 12.3 punt return average ranks fifth. He is the franchise's all-time leader in total return touchdowns, punt return touchdowns, punt return yards, kickoff return yards (5,504), total kick return yards (8,745) and second in all-purpose yards (11,632). Hester's 2,807 receiving yards are 18th most in Bears annals and his 217 receptions are 14th.

"From my knowledge, I know that Chicago wants to go a different route with me," Hester said on the NFL Network. "All I can say is thanks to the fans (for) the support. Always been great to me, always been loyal. I couldn't want to play for a better city than those guys."

A three-time Pro Bowl player (2006, 2007 and 2010 seasons), Hester was named to the 2000's all-decade team by The Associated Press and ESPN.

Hester, who is an unrestricted free agent March 11, was named the rookie recipient of the team's 2006 Brian Piccolo Award, which is voted on by Bears players for the teammate they feel best exemplifies the courage, loyalty, teamwork, dedication and sense of humor of the late Brian Piccolo.


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(jsonline.com)
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Devin Hester says Dolphins among suitors

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RIVIERA BEACH — Devin Hester could end up in a Miami Dolphins uniform by the summer.

The free agent wide receiver and kick returner, who spent eight years with the Chicago Bears before parting ways this month, said the Dolphins are one of 13 teams that have expressed interest in signing him.

A three-time Pro Bowler who holds the NFL record for return touchdowns with 20, Hester would welcome an opportunity to play for his hometown team.
He grew up in Riviera Beach, graduated from Suncoast High School and played college football at the University of Miami.

“I grew up watching them,” Hester, 31, said of the Dolphins. “It’s closer to home. It’s closer to my family.”

Hester, who was in town Saturday for a free youth football clinic sponsored by the city of Riviera Beach and his year-old foundation, the Anytime 23 Empowerment Center, said the Dolphins’ recent bullying scandal is not an issue for him.

An NFL-commissioned report released last month detailed incidents of harassment, racism, bullying and homophobia within the Dolphins’ locker room last season.

Hester has no timetable for reaching an agreement with an NFL team, though he hopes to be signed by the time training camp starts this summer.
Though he’s had his greatest success as a kick returner, he said he’d like some playing time at wide receiver.

During his career, Hester has caught 217 passes for 2,807 yards and 14 touchdowns.



“I’m going to let my agent and the upstairs guys on offense work out the details,” he said. “What’s fair is fair.”

In the meantime, Hester, who lives in Orlando, is focusing much of his attention on his foundation.

The non-profit Anytime 23 Empowerment Center provides after-school programs and activities that promote healthy, stable lifestyles for kids ages 6-18.
As children, Hester and his older brother, Lenoris, were active in the local Boys and Girls Club. Lenoris Hester now is executive director of his brother’s foundation.

“I wanted to give back to the community and inspire youth,” Hester said.

Saturday’s clinic at Suncoast and a celebrity basketball game Friday night were the first public events organized by the foundation.

Friday’s game featured 20 current or former NFL players, including several with ties to Palm Beach County. Anquan Boldin and Abram Elam were among those who participated.

Saturday’s youth clinic drew nearly 300 youngsters in grades 3-8. Thirty professional football players, local high school coaches and volunteers ran the program, which was designed to introduce kids to football by teaching basic skills.

Grant money to support the event was provided through the NFL Youth Football Fund.

“This is all basic, fundamental stuff,” said Hester, who helped run drills Saturday. “We’re just doing the small details to get them started and advance their talents.”

Several of Hester’s former Chicago Bears teammates served as volunteer coaches at the clinic, including cornerback Tim Jennings and safety Major Wright, now a free agent.

Both said they were happy to support Hester’s efforts to reach out to children. Hester has two sons, ages 1 and 4.

“For him to come out here and give back to his community is great,” said Wright, who played with Hester for four seasons. “It’s an opportunity for him to come out here, see where he grew up and give back to his kids. He’s a great guy, not just on the field.”


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(palmbeachpost.com)
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Washington Redskins Should Sign Devin Hester

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The Washington Redskins‘ special teams embodies the term “many happy returns.” Unfortunately, that term mostly applied to the Redskins’ opponents in 2013. The Redskins surrendered four touchdowns via punt or kickoff return in 2013, the most allowed by any team. Returning punts and kickoffs provided additional ineptitude for the Redskins, as they finished 25th in the NFL in both categories while not recording a touchdown. It’s performances like this that get special teams coaches fired, and that’s exactly what happened when first year special teams coach Keith Burns was relieved of his coaching duties after the season.

In Burns’ defense, the kick returning duo of tight end Niles Paul and wide receiver Josh Morgan doesn’t exactly strike fear in the hearts of opposing special teams coaches. Neither does wide receiver Santana Moss, who once was a premier NFL punt returner. Not anymore, however, as Moss turns 35 in June, and most likely won’t be returning punts for the Redskins anymore.

None of that matters now. The Redskins need a spark on special teams. Free agent kick returner Devin Hester (above, No. 23) could be that spark. The Chicago Bears recently released Hester, apparently not wanting to pay him the approximate $3 million he could be seeking in 2014. That’s a lot of money to pay a specialist like Hester, who hasn’t proven capable of consistently producing in any other capacity other than returning kicks. Hester also turns 32 in November, and it would be hard to justify signing a kick return specialist like him for such a high price.

Despite Washington’s need to spend cautiously during free agency, Hester would be a great fit. The Redskins currently don’t have anyone that can provide efficiency in the kick return game. Cornerback Richard Crawford was supposed to provide that efficiency as a punt returner, but he suffered a season ending torn ACL injury before the 2013 season. If he fully recovers from that injury, it’s hard to determine how efficient he would be returning punts.

Hester set NFL records with 13 career punt returns for touchdowns, as well as returning 18 total kicks for touchdowns. In addition, Hester has also spent time at wide receiver. That won’t be necessary, with Washington signing wide receiver Andre Roberts to fill that role.

Hester is a more of a luxury than a priority for the Redskins, as shoring up their defense should be a top priority.  Nevertheless, signing this great return specialist could bring excitement to the once again woebegone Redskins’ franchise.


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(rantsports.com)
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Chiefs Showing Interest In Devin Hester

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Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star confirmed on Tuesday the Chiefs have interest in Devin Hester. How much sense Hester would make within the Chiefs offense is unknown but we do know he would perform well in special teams under Dave Toub. Even at age 31, Hester ranked in the top 10 in both kickoff and punt returns, according to PFF. Money could be an issue with Hester, however.


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(arrowheadaddict.com)
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Money a question mark for Devin Hester

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CHICAGO -- The idea of three-time Pro Bowl returner Devin Hester reuniting with ex-Chicago Bears' special teams coordinator Dave Toub in Kansas City remains "a possibility," according to a source with direct knowledge of the situation, but the Chiefs are not believed to have the financial flexibility to overspend to acquire Hester.

Hester earned a total of $2,107,523 in the final year of his contract with the Bears, but he is not expected to command that kind of money on the open market after the Bears announced Hester would not be re-signed.

One league source anticipates Hester will have to settle for around $1 million, although it's unknown if any concrete figures were exchanged between Hester and interested teams during the NFL's legal tampering period leading up the start of free agency.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with former Bears and current Bucs head coach Lovie Smith calling the shots, are also believed to be a potential match for Hester.

Hester set the Bears' single-game record last year with 249 kickoff return yards versus the Minnesota Vikings in Week 2. He finished the year with 51 kickoff returns for 1,436 yards (27.6 yard average) and 18 punt returns for 256 yards and one touchdown.

Hester holds the all-time NFL record for combined career kick return touchdowns with 18.


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(espn.com)
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Dolphins should make Devin Hester's next return a homecoming

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Devin Hester is the most productive kick-return specialist in NFL history.

Gee, do you think the Miami Dolphins, 26th in the league in scoring last year, could use some of that?

It's a simple question with all kinds of clumsy qualifiers, starting with Hester's age (31), but the Chicago Bears don't want him anymore and the NFL's free-agency period is about to begin so, really, why shouldn't new Dolphins GM Dennis Hickey at least be talking about this?

This is one blockbuster of a Palm Beach County story waiting to happen, with Hester, a former star at Suncoast High School in Riviera Beach and the University of Miami, coming home to burn one last trail through the NFL record books.

Anthony Carter, the Suncoast giant of another era, would have jumped on this hometown hero gig but the Dolphins traded his draft rights away in 1985 in return for a Vikings linebacker named Robin Sendlein who played one year in Miami and a second-round draft pick that was part of the deal to bring Hugh Green here.

If the Dolphins thought AC had too much wear on his tires after playing in the old USFL, they were wrong. Carter was a Pro Bowl receiver for Minnesota with a variety of spectacular highlights in the playoffs, including 143 yards in punt returns in one game and 227 reception yards in another.

And what about Anquan Boldin of Pahokee High School and Florida State, another of the most amazing athletes to come out of this area? The Dolphins could have had him midway through the second round of the 2003 draft but instead took linebacker Eddie Moore, who turned out to be so much less.

Boldin came around again in the offseasons of 2010 and 2013, when his former teams in Arizona and Baltimore figured the powerful wide receiver was getting a little old and traded him away for a handful of mid- to late-round draft picks. A pittance, but the Dolphins weren't sufficiently interested to offer even that much. These days Boldin, 33, is working on a new $12 million contract with the 49ers and looking to put up his second consecutive 1,000-yard receiving season and the seventh of his career.

Now here comes Hester, the local legend who need not get away.

If he's getting on in years, that didn't stop Hester from averaging 27.7 yards on punt returns last year, which was top-five in the league and 5 yards more than Miami's Marcus Thigpen.

If he's prone to double back and give ground in constant quest of the home-run return, that didn't stop Hester from bringing a punt back 81 yards for a touchdown in a game at Washington last year. Thigpen's longest punt return for the Dolphins in 2013 was 34 yards.

The strongest reason to avoid spending money on Hester or any return specialist is the NFL's 2011 decision to encourage touchbacks and discourage high-speed collisions by moving the kickoff spot 5 yards closer to the end zone.

Once again, though, Hester has managed to keep it exciting no matter the odds.

It took him just six games after that rule was installed to score a touchdown on a 98-yard kickoff return. What's more, Hester was just about standing on the back line of the end zone the night he returned a missed Giants field goal 108 yards for a touchdown in 2006.

The Bears don't play in Miami all that often, of course, and just once since Hester came into the league. He did return the opening kickoff of the Super Bowl for a touchdown seven years ago, however, in a game played at Pro Player Stadium. The Dolphins' home field was a fair fit for him that night and it could be again.

Bottom line, somebody's going to have Hester on their roster the day he scores his 20th return touchdown to break the all-time record tie with Deion Sanders. Might as well be Miami, unless Stephen Ross prefers to keep buying seats in his own stadium in order to avoid local TV blackouts.

When your team is 8-8 or 7-9 or whatever, fans need a little magic to take home with them. If Hester doesn't always deliver that, and pronto, at least there is the promise every time he touches the ball.

That's the one thing that never gets old.


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(kansascity.com)
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New York Giants interested in signing Devin Hester?

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The New York Giants have some questions to answer this offseason but while everyone is focusing not heir glaring need for offensive line help — something that is rightfully the priority — other areas of the roster need to be filled out as well.

Wide receiver help is desperately needed for the Giants and their kick return game is one of the worst in the NFL. That’s why fans are starting to warm to the idea that Devin Hester could be a realistic option for New York this offseason. Giants beat writer Mike Graziano isn’t totally selling the idea of Hester coming to New York but he’s not buying either.

Per ESPN.com:
The Giants’ kick return and punt return units ranked among the worst in the league in 2013. Devin Hester, who was released by the Chicago Bears earlier this week, is one of the best return men in NFL history. I think it’s safe to connect the dots and assume the Giants will have interest. As for Hester’s price, it’s hard to say.

Graziano goes on to say that Hester’s lack of ability at wide receiver greatly reduces his value to the Giants and he’d likely be exclusively a return man. That’s not a bad role to have Hester in, but the money might not be right for what Hester’s true value is and that could kill the whole deal.


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(fansided.com)
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Devin Hester thanks Chicago Bears fans in emotional goodbye message

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In a message posted to his official Facebook page, the dynamic runner reserved special praise for the Bears fanbase:

"To all my Chicago people...I can't thank you all enough for my time in Chicago. I've always said I wanted to retire a Chicago Bear but sometimes things don't work out the way we would like.

"Chicago will always hold a special place in my heart and if I am fortunate enough to break the return record, we will have all broken it together...no matter where I am.

"Thank you again and God Bless," he wrote.

The message has already received over 55,000 'likes', and it is clear that the player built up a special bond with fans during his eight years at Soldier Field.
Hester had to date spent all of his professional career with the Chicago Bear since being drafted in 2006 and has built a reputation as an expert punt and kickoff returner. 

The return record he speaks of in the message is currently set at 13 - a total Hester shares with Deion Sanders.

So when Hester finally breaks that record, which he looks likely to do at a new franchise, we can be sure he will pay a little tribute to the people in Chicago who helped him reach the landmark. 

Hester will head to free agency now, and even at 31-years old should find a new team without too much trouble.


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(givemesport.com)
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Devin Hester unlikely to return to Chicago Bears

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It appears to be the end of an era in Chicago.

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday that Devin Hester likely will hit the free-agent market as the Bears have not attempted to re-sign him, according to a source who has spoken to the return specialist.

Hester, who joined the Bears in 2006 after the team drafted him in the second round as a cornerback, has been selected to the Pro Bowl three times for his exploits fielding punts and kickoffs. He shares the record for most combined return touchdowns in NFL history (19) with Deion Sanders.

In 2013, Hester compiled a career-high 1,436 kickoff return yards and an additional 256 yards and one touchdown from punt returns. However, it's worthy of note that his 52 kickoff returns were a career-high number and his 18 punt returns were a career low -- arguably the product of an embattled defense that failed to keep opposing offenses off the scoreboard during inopportune times.

Even more telling is the fact that after registering at least 20 receptions leading up to 2013, Hester didn't catch a single pass last season.

A reunion with former Bears coach Lovie Smith in Tampa Bay would be one potential option, but Rapoport opined Tuesday that such a move would be improbable.

Perhaps Hester -- who made a base figure of $1.857 million in 2013 -- could land on a contender with enough salary cap room and aspirations of elevating its special-teams unit another level. Either way, while he's still a dynamic force, the 31-year-old specialist's destination is uncertain for next season.


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(nfl.com)
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Devin Hester once again linked to Buccaneers

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers don't have a quality returner yet, but they may sign one in free agency. According to Dan Pompei, "some suspect" that Devin Hester will be reunited with Lovie Smith. Hester's contract in Chicago is up and the Bears seem unlikely to re-sign the three-time All-Pro returner.

New special teams coordinator Kevin O'Dea stressed the importance of finding a great returner, something the Bucs have failed to do since Clifton Smith's career ended due to injury. Devin Hester could fill that role, as he was the Bears' only punt returner and primary kick returner last season, and was effective even at age 31, averaging 14.2 yards per punt return and 27.6 yards per kick return.

Another free agent option would be Dexter McCluster. He'd make more sense for a number of reasons. McCluster worked with O'Dea in Kansas City, is significantly younger than Devin Hester and would be a useful player on offense. Hester who has struggled to be productive outside of his job as a returner throughout his career.

McCluster led the league in punt return yards and punt return touchdowns last year, though that was in part due to the fact that he led the league in number of punt returns. Hester actually put up a better average as a punt returner last year, and had one touchdown on just 18 punt returns. That low number of punt returns was due largely to the fact that Bears opponents refused to kick to Hester: no other Bear managed a single punt return last year.

McCluster and Hester have both been repeatedly linked with the Bucs over the past weeks, although those links are little more than speculation for now. The Bucs would love to find a productive returner who can also contribute on offense, but they may just have to settle for a productive returner this time.


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(bucsnation.com)
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Will Hester Be "Ridiculous" Elsewhere Next Season?

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Welcome to Decision 2014, a series of articles designed to discuss which players the Chicago Bears should attempt to keep in the fold for next season, and which players they should bid adieu to as they attempt to work through a tough salary cap situation.

Today’s player is kick returner Devin Hester.

If you were to ask a Bears fan what their favorite memory of the team is over the past decade, odds are that the moment they choose would involve Devin Hester in some way.

Whether it was the insane comeback against the Arizona Cardinals on Monday night football in 2006, or his opening kickoff touchdown in Super Bowl XLI, or even his threats to retire after the firing of Lovie Smith as head coach (okay, maybe not that one), Hester has been part of plenty of history during his tenure in the Windy City, but all of that may be about to change.

That’s because Hester’s 4-year deal with the Bears, which at its peak carried a $6.833 million cap hit in 2010, has expired after the 2013 season. Hester had a decent year for the Bears, scoring his first return touchdown since 2011 and leading the league in average yards per kickoff return. Overall, he returned 70 kickoffs and punts for 1698 yards for the Bears.

Now though, Hester’s tenure with the team is a giant question mark. With the club currently in a bit of a salary cap crunch thanks to a combination of long-term money being given to guys like Jay Cutler and Tim Jennings, as well as the dead money that is inevitably going to be carried when the Bears start slicing and dicing contracts off their books, Hester is nowhere near the front of the line when it comes to guys that the Bears are considering handing fresh coin to.

The question, then, is whether or not the Bears should make it a priority to bring Hester back. After all, having a guy on the roster who does nothing but return punts and kicks isn’t the most effective allocation of resources in today’s NFL, but there rarely are guys who are capable of breaking the big play quite as often as Hester has in his career. Granted, those return touchdowns, once a gushing waterfall of scoring, have now gone drier than the Sahara Desert, with his touchdown in 2013 serving as merely an oasis in a land largely devoid of scoring.

Of course, you can’t just look at the numbers that Hester puts up in the touchdown category to prove his worth. After all, teams still kick away from Hester at times, and even when they don’t, his average return number is still very good even for a guy who isn’t getting to the end zone quite as much. Additionally, Hester did have a couple of return touchdowns called back because of penalty (thanks, Craig Steltz), so it isn’t like he is fully incapable of getting to the end zone.

Unfortunately though, the Bears aren’t in a position where they can afford much more than a 1-year, low-guaranteed money deal for Hester. They have guys on the roster like Eric Weems who are capable of returning kicks, and because of that expendability that Hester now has, it’s probably time that the team parts ways with him.

Jeff Joniak may no longer be able to say “DEVIN HESTER YOU ARE RIDICULOUS” on his return touchdowns, but the Bears will be better off having some financial freedom to pursue other avenues rather than trying to come up with money to sign a guy that is more of a luxury item than a necessity.


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(nbcchicago.com)
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Since Ray Guy Is In, Devin Hester Should Have a Better Chance for Hall of Fame

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This past weekend, the NFL announced the seven players who will be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this summer. There were some former players expected to be called, and there were some who raised an eyebrow or two. Then there were some whose call to the hall was long overdue, and one of those individuals was Ray Guy.

Ever since the Pro Football Hall of Fame came into existence in 1963 there has never been a punter enshrined. Guy will be the first punter ever to receive this honor and will be the second full-time special teams player inducted. The first one was kicker Jan Stenerud. Including Guy and Stenerud, there are now four players who are in the HOF who played special teams with the other two players being George Blanda and Lou Groza, who also played quarterback and offensive tackle respectively.

Guy, who finally got enough votes after eight attempts, was, and still is, considered the best to ever play at his position. In fact, Guy was so good that the annual award given to the best collegiate punter in the nation is named after him.

Now that the football world has finally given Guy his just due, there seems to be a much better chance for Chicago Bears return specialist Devin Hester to make it to Canton, OH once he decides to hang up his cleats.

Hester has been dubbed by many as the greatest return man of all time. During his eight years in the NFL, Hester owns the record for punt returns for touchdowns in a single season (4) and has the most punt returns for touchdownsicon1 in a career (13). In addition, Hester shares the record for most total returns for touchdowns in a career (19) with Hall of Famer Deion Sanders.

Although his skills in the return game might have diminished over the years, Hester is still considered one of the best and most dangerous returners in the league. The fact that Hester has accomplished what so many couldn’t even do in an entire football career should be reason enough for an invitation to the be among the best of the best.

The small number of special teams players in the HOF shows that this phase of the game is being terribly overlooked. Hopefully, the enshrinement of Guy will open the floodgates for more special teams specialist for the HOF such as Brian Mitchell and Steve Tasker.

Just like Guy, Hester is the very best to do it at his position. Regardless of whether more special teams players are selected to go into the HOF, Hester definitely should be the next Chicago Bear to have a bronze bust in Canton.


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(rantsports.com)
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Devin Hester's TD fourth best play of year

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Last week ChicagoBears.com invited fans to select the Bears' top five plays of the season. Finishing in fourth place with six percent of the vote was Devin Hester's 81-yard punt return touchdown Oct. 20 in a 45-41 road loss to the Redskins.

Hester caught Sav Rocca's 53-yard punt at his own 19-yard line just inside the left sideline. He then sprinted all the way across the field and picked up a convoy of blockers down the right sideline. Eric Weems, Jerry Franklin and Khaseem Greene were among those who threw key blocks.

"It was designed to go right," Hester said. "We practiced on it every day. We knew their kicker kind of tends to punt it to our left. We just wanted to make sure when we got that opportunity that we sealed the gunner backside and formed that wall, and that's what they did. The guys up front did a great job of setting up that wall and letting me around the corner."

With the 81-yard touchdown, Hester extended his NFL all-time records for punt return TDs to 13 and combined kick return TDs to 18. He also tied Hall of Famer Deion Sanders' all-time NFL mark of 19 return TDs, which includes punts, kickoffs, missed field goals, fumbles and interceptions.

"It means a lot," Hester said at the time. "I'm still pressing forward with my career and trying to better myself before my days are long gone, and to tie a legend like that is an honor."

The Redskins tried to keep the ball out of Hester's hands most of the day, hitting short kickoffs that were returned by Weems, Joe Anderson and Dante Rosario. A week earlier, Washington had allowed the Cowboys' Dwayne Harris to return a punt 86 yards for a touchdown and a kickoff 90 yards to set up another TD.

"We knew that this was going to be a team that was going to keep it away from me just because of the previous weeks that they had," Hester said. "They had been struggling on special teams and we assumed that they were going to shy away from our return game. We knew we had to take advantage of the opportunity I got because we knew we weren't going to get that many."


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(chicagobears.com)
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Devin Hester: Return to the Bears Next Season "Not Up to Me"

DevinHesterBears2
The Chicago Bears headed into the 2014 offseason with a lot of questions as to who will be on their roster when the team convenes for training camp in July, and one of the biggest question marks is the one following the name of kick returner Devin Hester.

Hester, who has 13 career punt returns for touchdowns (including an 81-yarder against the Washington Redskins in the 2013 campaign) and has five more kick returns for touchdowns, could be on his way out of town as it seems like the team might let him test the waters of free agency.

As Dan Widerer of the Chicago Tribune points out, the Bears might give a look to Chris Williams, a receiver that they signed off the New Orleans Saints’ practice squad the last week of the regular season, and that spirit of looking at cheaper options might mean that Hester’s days in the Windy City are over.

The caption to the photo reads "To all my true Chicago fans, its not up to me whether I stay, its up to the coaches and guys upstairs n the Chicago Bears front office. #Beardown." 

As weird as it would be to see Hester returning kicks in another team’s uniform, the fact of the matter is that the Bears have got to be looking very closely at how they are allocating salary cap space due to the constraints put on them by some of the bigger contracts they have on the books, and if they choose to pay Hester, that limits their options in other areas.

A reunion with Lovie Smith down in Tampa Bay could always be in the cards for Hester if he doesn’t end up rejoining the Bears next season, but as of right now, his future is unclear as the Bears evaluate their financial obligations.


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(nbcchicago.com)
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Devin Hester unlikely to return to Bears in 2014, per report

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The star returner would be an unrestricted free agent.

Star return man Devin Hester is unlikely to return to the Chicago Bears in 2014, Len Pasquarelli is reporting.

Pasquarelli reports the team is unsure as to whether Hester fits within the Bears' plans, and he is likely to become an unrestricted free agent. The former Miami Hurricane star had previously hinted at retiring when the team and head coach Lovie Smith parted ways, but it appears he is willing to latch on to another team when his deal is up.

Hester has also played wide receiver in his time with the Bears, but is best known as a returner. This season he caught 23 passes for a career low 242 yards and one touchdown (his second straight season with just one score), but led the league in kick return yardage (1,436 yards on 52 returns) and scored a punt return touchdown.

That kick return mark was a career high for Hester (no doubt inflated by Chicago's poor defense giving up a lot of points), and his 27.6 average per return was second highest of his career.


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(philly.com)
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Devin Hester: Wins Return-Yardage Crown

DevinHester
NEWS UPDATE
Hester racked up a league-leading 1,698 combined return yards this season.

ROTOWIRE FANTASY ANALYSIS
Working strictly as a return specialist this season, Hester appeared to regain his fastball, so to speak. His 14.2 average on punt returns would have ranked third in the NFL had he received enough opportunities to qualify, as punters wisely chose to kick away from him often. Hester was less easy to avoid on kickoffs, finishing with an average of 27.7 yards on 52 returns, good for the second-best mark of his career. The 31-year-old is set to become a free agent in the offseason, but with few players capable of replacing Hester's impact on special teams, look for the Bears to submit a competitive offer to retain his services.


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(rotowire.com)
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Devin Hester wants to know where he stands with Bears

DevinHesterBears2
Bears kicker returner Devin Hester doesn’t want to be strung along. He wants to be told what the team envisions for him.

Hester, one of 27 Bears with an expiring contract, wants an answer as quickly as one of his cuts on the field.

“I really want to know right away,” Hester said after the Bears’ season-ending loss Sunday to the Green Bay Packers. “I’m the type of guy that I don’t want to go through the whole offseason not knowing where I’m going to be at. So hopefully we can get something done. Like I said, I want to retire as a Bear. I put in too much hard work here, and I did a lot of things around here and I’m pretty sure the fans want me back. So who knows?”

What Hester should know is that his potential replacement might have just moved into a locker at Halas Hall not far from his. The Bears’ decision to sign returner/receiver Chris Williams off the New Orleans Saints’ practice squad Thursday could be an indication where the Bears are headed with Hester. Williams has a three-year contract; Hester does not.

Williams set a Canadian Football League record with six return touchdowns in 2012 with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. An undrafted free agent from New Mexico State in 2009, Williams also had 1,117 punt-return yards and 83 receptions for 1,298 yards and 11 touchdowns that season. He’s considered an intriguing prospect.

“I had a few offers [from other teams],” Williams said Monday. “I was in a good situation in New Orleans, and I decided to stick that out. And then Chicago came, and obviously [there’s] familiarity. Once I sat down with my family and we just started talking, this seemed like the best place for me to continue my football career, so we made the move.”

His familiarity is with coach Marc Trestman.

“Obviously, I have a bit of history with coach Trestman playing against him up there in Canada,” Williams said. “A lot of the staff has seen me play before. They know what I’m capable of. I’m just excited to get going.”

Used exclusively as a return specialist this season, Hester was revitalized. He tied the NFL career record for return touchdowns (19, with Deion Sanders) in Week 7 against the Washington Redskins with an 81-yard punt return, and he set a team single-game record with 249 kick-return yards in Week 2 against the Minnesota Vikings. Teams still accounted for his game-changing ability, often kicking away from him.

Hester, 31, said it hurt coming off the field Sunday knowing it might be his last game with the Bears.

“This is where I was born and raised,” Hester said. “It’s not like I played three years and went six years somewhere. My whole eight years has been here.”
Williams said he didn’t feel like he was replacing Hester, saying he believes he’s just as effective as a receiver. Either way, he knows what Hester has meant to the Bears.

“Devin is amazing,” Williams said. “He’s one of the greats of all-time.”


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(suntimes.com)
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Devin Hester came close to breaking two returns

DevinHesterBears2
A block there or cutback here, and the NFL record for most return touchdowns could have been had by Bears kick returner Devin Hester. He looked that close at times in the Bears’ 33-28 loss against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.

Hester opened the game with a 39-yard kickoff return and then ­ignited the Bears’ strong second half with a 49-yard punt return ­after a three-and-out by the ­Packers to open the third quarter.

“The biggest thing on my mind was just getting our offense good field position,” Hester said. “I know when I give our offense good field position, we usually put points on the board.”

But that record-setting 20th return touchdown was a goal of Hester’s. He said so just a few days ago. He said it would be sad not to do it in a Bears uniform, knowing his future isn’t guaranteed because his contract expires.

If Sunday was his last game with the Bears, how does he want to be remembered?

“That I was going to come out here and leave it all on the line,” said Hester, who had five kickoff returns for 127 yards. “At the end of the day, they remember the last game and they know that this last game I put in my all and I fought to the wire. Until the last kick, I gave it my all.”


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(suntimes.com)
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Devin Hester unsure of future

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CHICAGO -- Three-time Pro Bowl return man Devin Hester wants clarity on his future with the Chicago Bears.

Hester, who is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent after earning $2,107,523 in the final year of his contract, hopes to hear in the near future if he fits into the Bears’ plans beyond 2013.

“I really want to know right away,” Hester said following the Bears’ 33-28 loss to the Green Bay Packers. “I am the type of guy, I don’t want to go through the whole offseason not knowing where I am going to be at. I want to retire as a Bear. I put in too much hard work here and did a lot of things around here. I am pretty sure the fans want me back, so who knows.”

One of the organization’s most popular players since he debuted in the league in 2006 as a second-round pick out of the University of Miami, Hester said he’s currently in the dark regarding the Bears’ offseason intentions.

“To be honest, I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Hester said. “It really hurts walking off the field knowing that this could be my last time wearing a Chicago Bears uniform. It’s the most hurtful feeling that I have right now. This is where I was born and raised (as an NFL player). It’s not like I played three years somewhere else or six years somewhere else, but I know this is a business.

Everything I had in me I left it all on the field tonight. We just came up short.”

Hester returned a punt 49 yards in Week 17 while also handling five kickoffs for 127 yards. In his first season of being exclusively a return man, Hester finished 2013 with a 27.7 yard average on kickoff returns and 14.2 yard average on punt returns, including an 81-yard touchdown.

He joins a long list of prominent Bears players with expiring contracts. Among the players on the list: quarterback Jay Cutler, cornerbacks Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings, defensive lineman Corey Wootton, safety Major Wright, center Roberto Garza, linebacker James Anderson and left guard Matt Slauson.


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(espn.com)
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Devin Hester Doesn't Break Record, But Key To Bears' Victory

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Devin Hester might not have set the record for touchdown returns, but Hester had three kickoff returns for 105 yards and a 21-yard punt return that set up the Bears’ go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter.




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(suntimes.com)
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Devin Hester’s record could be better

DevinHesterBears2
When Devin Hester was at his best as the most dangerous kick returner in NFL history, every special-teams player made an extra effort to avoid penalties, knowing how dearly it might cost the team.

But they’re losing their touch. Craig Steltz’s holding penalty that nullified Hester’s 62-yard punt return for a touchdown against the Rams was the Bears’ fifth penalty this season on a Hester punt return and 13th in the last two seasons. (The Bears committed 16 penalties on Hester punt returns in his first six seasons.) The Bears have committed penalties on 13 kickoff returns by Hester in his career, including Khaseem Greene’s holding penalty Sunday.

Steltz took the blame for his penalty, when he took down linebacker Daren Bates at the line of scrimmage.

‘‘You’ve got to let him go to the ground. You can’t go to the ground with him,’’ Steltz said.

He said he knew it was a penalty when it happened: ‘‘You just get caught up in it. Feet get tangled up and guys go down. [But] I usually don’t go to the ground with them.’’

That was the fourth time in Hester’s eight-year career that he has had a touchdown return nullified by penalty. The Bears won the first three, including a playoff game against the Seahawks.

Hester also has had 64-yard punt return (2007 vs. the Raiders) and a 48-yard kickoff return (2008 vs. the Packers) that did not result in scores nullified by penalty.

The Bears have committed 15 penalties on special teams this season.

This is no time for second-guessing. But ...

It’s hard to ignore the impact Bruce Arians — the runner-up to Marc Trestman in the Bears’ coaching search in January — is having with the Arizona Cardinals.

After a convincing 40-11 rout of the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, the Cardinals are 7-4 with four consecutive victories. It probably didn’t hurt that Arians was the offensive coordinator and head coach of the Colts last season. It’s just the Bears’ luck that they don’t play the Montreal Alouettes this year.

After a slow start, Arians has given the Cardinals’ offense an expected boost as the team has scored at least 27 points in its last four games.

Larry Fitzgerald (50 receptions, 606 yards, eight touchdowns) and second-year wide receiver Michael Floyd (49-761, three touchdowns) are giving the Cardinals a 1-2 punch that rivals the Bears’ tandem of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. In his last two games, Floyd has had six catches for 193 yards against the Jaguars and seven for 104 against the Colts. Fitzgerald’s eight touchdowns are double his 2012 production.

After a slow start, 34-year-old Carson Palmer is on a roll. His ratings during the streak (eight touchdowns, two interceptions) were 116.0, 93.4, 119.0 and 114.0.

But it’s on defense where Arians has what Marc Trestman does not. The Cardinals are not only getting Pro Bowl-worthy seasons from defensive end Calais Campbell, linebacker Karlos Dansby and cornerback Patrick Peterson, but they’ve also upgraded their lineup since Week 1 — adding linebackers John Abraham and Matt Shaughnessy, rookie safety Tyrann Mathieu, while linebacker Daryl Washington returned from a four-game suspension.

Under defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, the Cardinals are eighth in the NFL in total defense, second in rushing defense and tied for fourth with 23 takeaways. They’ve allowed fewer rushing yards in their last four games (215 on 66 carries) than the Bears allowed against the Rams on Sunday (258).

There’s still a long way to go. All Arians’ success means right now is that Bears general manager Phil Emery had the right guys at the top of his list.


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(suntimes.com)
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Devin Hester keeps his head after holding penalty takes away NFL record

DevinHesterBears2
ST. LOUIS — Devin Hester and Craig Steltz walked together from the field, through the tunnel and to a losing locker room Sunday, quietly chatting as they went.

The subject of their discussion was the play that could’ve — perhaps should’ve — turned this ugly game around but didn’t.

In the opening seconds of the fourth quarter, with the Bears trailing 27-14, Hester took a punt back 62 yards for an apparent touchdown. But a holding penalty on Steltz nullified what would’ve been his 20th career punt or kickoff return. It would’ve broken the NFL record he shares with Deion Sanders.

For Bears fans — especially the tens of thousands at the Edward Jones Dome — it was the most exciting and the most disappointing play of the game.
For Steltz, a longtime Bears special-teams standout, it also was confusing.

“I really don’t know what happened,” he said. “I don’t know what I did. I didn’t [notice] anything.”

According to Hester, Steltz told him the Ram deemed to have been held actually fell on his own. The Bears wound up scoring on a 72-yard drive anyway, but the drive chewed up about half of the quarter. On an afternoon full of letdowns and screw-ups for the Bears, Steltz’s penalty was as damaging as any.

Perhaps damaging to Hester’s legacy, too, if it turns out we’ve seen his last glorious run-back.

“Nah, man,” Hester said. “It’s not the first one I’ve gotten called back. And it’s not going to be the last one.”

What did Hester tell Steltz as they made their way to the locker room?

“He just told me to keep my head up because we block our butts off for him every time,” Steltz said. “He’s the greatest of all time.”


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(suntimes.com)
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Devin Hester: I can cover anybody

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LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Return specialist Devin Hester grinned Friday when approached by reporters to explain the cameo appearance he made at practice this week with the club’s defensive backs.

“If I go line up at quarterback and take a couple of snaps, you are all going to say we are running the option or running the Wildcat,” Hester said. “That’s your job.”

Hester, a former collegiate and NFL cornerback and nickelback, participated with members of the secondary in individual drills open to the media twice this week (Wednesday and Friday), and even spent roughly 10 minutes after Wednesday’s session working one-on-one with Bears’ defensive backs coach Jon Hoke.

“I did it to have fun,” Hester said. “Being a special-teamer now, I really don’t get as many reps as the normal guys do in practice since I’m a specialist now with the returns. That’s pretty much all I do now. To keep myself busy, I jump in every now and again to play around.

“We all hang out off the field, so whenever I come over there and play around with those guys, it gives them a little more energy and a little more excitement to go out there and work hard. When they see me in their group, it sparks them up a little bit. You have to make practice fun. You just can’t go through the same routine every day. When you joke around and have some fun, it goes by quick.”

While Hester seemed to enjoy the attention, he got serious for a moment when asked if he could cover Tavon Austin, the Rams' speedy rookie wide receiver, if the situation called for it.

“I can cover anybody,” Hester said before cracking a smile. “Just put a safety over the top, and I can shut anybody down. I need a safety over the top; I’m a Cover 2 man.”

Hester is likely an emergency option for the Bears if they suffer more injuries in the secondary Sunday. Cornerback Charles Tillman (triceps) has already been ruled out, while safety Craig Steltz is questionable with a concussion and starting nickelback Isaiah Frey is dealing with a fractured right hand that will require him to wear a cast during the game. The Bears also have reserve cornerbacks Sherrick McManis and Derrick Martin on the depth chart, and could theoretically elevate another defensive back from the practice squad before Sunday since the active roster stands at 52 (the max is 53).


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(espn.com)
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Hester back to defense? Trestman: 'You never know'

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Devin Hester was back with the Chicago Bears’ defensive backs Wednesday, partaking at least in individual drills during the portion of the team’s practice that was open to the media.

Coach Marc Trestman’s initial explanation?

“We try to keep Devin as busy as we can during the course of practice,” he said.

But is there more to it for Hester, who has been a return specialist and a return specialist only this year? Perhaps.

Rookie Isaiah Frey, the team’s slot cornerback in nickel situations, was held out of Wednesday’s practice with a cast on his hand. Frey told the Tribune he had suffered a bone bruise during Sunday’s 23-20 overtime win over the Ravens at Soldier Field. Trestman said Frey’s injury was a fracture in his hand that could be casted and put him in position to play Sunday against the Rams.

“We’ll know more tomorrow,” Trestman said. “But we’re really optimistic he’ll be out there.”

But what if Frey were unable to go? Trestman was uncharacteristically vague and evasive at first on how the secondary would be reshuffled in that scenario. It’s worth noting that when Frey became the top nickelback after a preseason injury to Kelvin Hayden, Demontre Hurst was the No. 2 in that position. Rookie cornerback C.J. Wilson is also in the mix. Currently, however, both Hurst and Wilson are on the Bears’ practice squd.

“There’s some movement that has to go on,” Trestman said. “But I’m optimistic that he’ll be playing. I don’t think it’s necessary to go through all the different logistics if that doesn’t happen. It’s certainly been discussed. But I feel optimistic that he’ll be playing.”

Coincidentally – or perhaps not – Hester was back working with the defensive backs for parts of Wednesday’s practice. Remember, while he’s been a return man this season after six seasons also performing double duty as a receiver, Hester was drafted out of the University of Miami in 2006 as a cornerback.

It certainly seems as if the Bears are creating an emergency plan if Frey is out with Hester figuring into those discussions. Even if it is a long shot ... a real long shot.

As Hester said Wednesday after practice, “They brought in corners that are backups. I’m not a corner. I’m just doing something to keep busy and help out.”

“You never know. You never know,” Trestman said. “We certainly want to keep him doing what he’s been doing. But he does have the ability certainly to do other things. Who knows? Nothing is out of the question. But it’s not something we spend a lot of time talking about.”

Also worth noting: the Bears will need to find some answers in their secondary for Rams receiver Tavon Austin, a rookie whose speed and ability to change directions could be a headache.


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(chicagotribune.com)
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Devin Hester does drills at DB

DevinHesterBears2
LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Chicago Bears return specialist Devin Hester spent a portion of Wednesday’s practice going through individual drills with members of the secondary, and even received one-on-one instruction from defensive backs coach Jon Hoke at the conclusion of the workout.

But does this mean Hester, a former collegiate and NFL cornerback, is a candidate to line up on the defensive side of the ball Sunday in St. Louis?

“He’ll jump into (the drills) from time to time and get a little work in,” Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said. “But there is really no news there. I’m not in the conversation business.”

Hester started games at cornerback and nickel back in college at the University of Miami and was a reserve cornerback for the Bears in 2006. Hester saw limited time on defense but did record 11 tackles and one pass break-up.

“We try to keep Devin as busy as we can throughout the course of practice,” Bears head coach Marc Trestman said. “But you never know. You never know. We certainly want to keep him doing what he’s been doing. But he does have value, certainly, doing other things. And who knows. Nothing’s out of the question. It’s not something we’ve spent a lot of time talking about.”


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(espn.com)
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Devin Hester ties NFL record with 19th TD

DevinHesterBears2
Devin Hester of the Chicago Bears has tied Hall of Famer Deion Sanders' NFL record with his 19th return for a touchdown.

Hester has brought back a punt 81 yards for a score in the second quarter against the Washington Redskins on Sunday. It is Hester's 13th punt return for a TD, extending his own record in that category.

He also has returned five kickoffs and one missed field goal for touchdowns.

Hester had not scored on a return in nearly two years, since Nov. 13, 2011.

The Redskins have allowed a punt return for a touchdown in two consecutive games, and against Oakland in Week 4 surrendered a TD on the return of a blocked punt.


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(foxsports.com)
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Devin Hester working to age well

DevinHesterBears2
Devin Hester is seeking kick return advice from a former record-setting return specialist who saved some of his best work for the final years of his career.

As the Bears prepare to visit Washington on Sunday, Hester is paying attention to the career highlights and advice of Brian Mitchell, the former stellar returner for the Redskins and Eagles.

Mitchell had 13 special teams touchdowns; Hester has 18. Mitchell returned two punts and three kickoffs for touchdowns between the ages of 30 and 34 before he retired at 35.

"I am trying to research some of the things about what he did in his early 30s," Hester said Wednesday. "Some of the things he says … I am trying to do. I like to pick his brain."

Hester, who will turn 31 on Nov. 4, is in the last year of his contract and wants to prove he still has what it takes to be a premier threat. He says he wants to improve his "image" again around the league.

"The past couple of years I have been in a slump as far as returns go. I kind of struggled with that," said Hester, who is no longer being deployed also as a receiver. "So this year I am hoping to bounce back"

Hester has 3,020 career punt return yards and 4,643 kickoff return yards. He has 35 punt return yards this season and 575 on kickoff returns. Hester is 37 punt return yards away from overtaking Allen Rossum (3,056) for ninth most in NFL history. Mitchell is first with 4,999 yards.

"I am just a couple of blocks away from breaking one," Hester said of the kickoff returns. "We watch the film every week and we harp on it real hard … one or two mistakes from a 25-yard return (becoming a) 98-yard return."

Hester realizes that returning kicks is not a one-man operation, and he could use a little help from his friends.

"We have a lot of young guys (on the return units) and we are throwing a lot at them," he said. "You have to be able to play when you get thrown in there. We veterans have to start rallying and improving these young guys to help them out more.

"Once we get on the same page and everybody knows their assignments … that's when the returns will start hitting."

Hester also knows that he needs to rely more on guile and instincts than pure speed as he gets older.

"It's knowing what to do and what the other 10 guys' (on the kick return unit) assignments are doing," he said. "You can get away with raw speed and faking guys (at a young age). But later on in life, when teams start to understand what kind of runner you are, they start to pay more attention to you."

(chicagotribune.com)
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Robbie Gould downplays spat with Bears' Devin Hester

DevinHesterBears2
Sometimes brothers fight.

Chicago Bears kicker Robbie Gould and return man Devin Hester engaged in a verbal spat with 5:12 left in the second quarter of the Bears' 27-21 victory on "Thursday Night Football." The incident occurred following a 46-yard kickoff return by New York Giants' Jerrel Jernigan.

Gould said the incident was just a quarrel among brothers in the heat of battle.

"I love Devin like a little brother," Gould said, per ESPNChicago.com. "It was just (that) my emotions got in the way. I was at fault. I was the wrong party in that. I love him like a brother. Once it was over, it was over. ... We both want to win. I don't want to put my teammates in a situation where I hit a [bad] kickoff like I did. There are no hard feelings. It's like a fight with your little brother."

We've seen sideline spats before, but one with the kicker? We'd love to know if Charles Tillman was saying, "Man, don't hurt the kicker" when he dragged Hester away.

Both Hester and Gould achieved milestones Thursday night. Hester's three kickoff returns for 73 yards made him Bears' all-time leader in kickoff return yards (4,643). Gould's 52-yard field goal in the third quarter tied the NFL record for most consecutive field goals made from 50-plus yards. It was Gould's 12th straight make, matching Minnesota Vikings kicker Blair Walsh.

Brothers argue, brothers get records and the family wins. All is A-OK in Chicago.


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(nfl.com)
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Devin Hester passes Glyn Milburn for Bears kickoff yardage record

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One of the most-successful kick returners of all time finally has his hands on his team's franchise record.

With his 28-yard return at the beginning of the second half of the Bears-Giants game on Thursday night, Devin Hester passed Glyn Milburn and his previous record 4,596 return yards in Chicago. Hester already owns the Bears punt-return yards record.

For the record, Hester is No. 43 on the all-time career kick return yardage list. Brian Mitchell, the all-time leader, has 14,014 yards.


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(nbcsports.com)
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Saints consider Devin Hester as dangerous as ever

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Chicago Bears kick returner Devin Hester hasn't aged well in the eyes of his opponents. That's because he seemingly hasn't aged at all

One of the most explosive special teams weapons in the league, the 30-year-old eight-year veteran is second in the NFL in kick returns going into Week 5, averaging 32.4 yards per return with a long of 80 yards.

"He's arguably the most decorated return man in our league's history," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "That's just a fact. ... We've been on the wrong end of a punt return (in 2007). He's outstanding."

Payton pointed to the fact Hester plays in Soldier Field, which he said doesn't allow opposing kickers any easy route to a touchback. So it opens up more chances for Hester. Payton said the coverage units have to be disciplined in their lanes and assignments.

Saints kickoff man and punter Thomas Morstead did his own research on Hester and discovered Hester has scored 17 times on returns during his career. So Morstead said it's "very crucial" for him to be pinpoint in both aspects.

"Every returner is scary, but when you play outdoors and it's real windy, that puts another element that I can't control," said Morstead, who also dubbed Hester the best returner of all time. "So I could hit every ball exactly how I want, and the wind could do something that I don't want it to do."


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Focus on returns paying off for Hester

DevinHesterBears2
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Those personal-best 249 return yards Devin Hester racked up for the Chicago Bears on Sunday appear to have been born from a conversation early in the summer.

New coach Marc Trestman revealed Monday that it was Hester who suggested that a reduction in responsibilities could help him to once again be the kind of return man who used to pile up weekly honors while heading off to Pro Bowls.

“The conversation, to my recollection, was, ‘It sounds to me like you just want to be a returner, and that’s OK with me. I would like you to be the returner and focus solely on that,’” Trestman said.

The revelation debunks a common belief that Hester was demoted to a return-only role after years of mostly choppy results as a wide receiver.

“I don’t ever remember me telling him that that was the way it’s going to be,” Trestman said. “I remember our conversation being more like, ‘I know that’s what you want to do, and I’m all-in.’ That’s sort of the way I remember it.

“Now, this was six and a half months ago. It was literally the second week I was here, I think. And it just stopped right there. [Special-teams coach] Joe [DeCamillis] started meeting with him, and we started developing a dialogue when we saw each other. It wasn’t complicated at all. It just seemed to happen that way.”

Fast-forward to Sunday at Soldier Field and Hester certainly looked like a hungry and fresh return man. After getting only one kick-return chance against Cincinnati in the season opener, Hester ran wild in his five chances against the Minnesota Vikings.

Also added to the mix was the motivation that came in the form of Cordarrelle Patterson's game-opening kick return for a touchdown that gave the Vikings an early lead.

“As an overall unit, we don’t like people to come in and start off like that on us,” said Hester, who would go on to earn his 13th career special-teams player of the week award. “The next opportunity was on special teams so that was the first option we had was coming back and getting a nice return.”

Without plays on offense to either clutter his mind or wear on his legs, Hester is feeling like a new man.

“It helps out a lot just throughout the week mentally preparing,” Hester said. “I spend more time with the special-teams unit, more time with the coaches, game-planning our opponent and just being around the special-teams players more often now.”

During practice, Hester can often be seen fielding punts and kicks instead of running pass patterns. Even with the reduced responsibilities, though, he’s going to be hard pressed to come anywhere near 249 return yards on a regular basis.

“I wish he could, that’s for sure,” DeCamillis said. “We’re going to try and going to strive to it and hopefully get that done, but you’re not going get those kind of days. Sometimes they will sail them out of the end zone, and I’m sure that was the plan coming in. It worked out well.”

Hester knows the punts out of bounds or the squib kickoffs are likely coming. He only hopes that opponents’ pride or self-confidence kicks in to give him give him more return chances.

“Who knows? This is the NFL; the best of the best,” Hester said when asked if he’s prepared to see fewer chances now. “I don’t think every team will avoid kicking to us. We will come across more teams that will be confident in their special teams and not willing to give up field position [with a] squib kick or bloop kick. We’re used to this situation where we have a great game on the return game and we go three or four games without a return. It’s nothing new.”

After spending the past four seasons as Dallas' special-teams coach, DeCamillis knows the type of concern Hester strikes in opponents.

“I know when we played him the second game of the year it sure looked like he was running hungry to me,” DeCamillis said. “All I can say is that I think he is competitive and we have a group of competitors on our team. I’m just glad to be with them and glad they bailed me out of a bad one right there, that’s for sure.”

That “bad one” is Patterson’s touchdown return, of course, something the Bears could forget with Hester’s day and ultimately the game-winning drive engineered by Jay Cutler.

“I came in here as a Devin Hester fan, and I’ve been watching him for years and always got excited to see what he could do on the field,” Trestman said. “And just to get to know him, it was easy early on to converse with him and to see his love for the game and love for the Bears. So when we put this into practice of just locking him into being a returner, we were excited to see some of that. And a little bit of it happened certainly on Sunday.”

(espn.com)
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Devin Hester Named NFC Special Teams Player Of The Week

DevinHesterBears2
Devin Hester now has a baker’s dozen NFC special teams player of the week awards.

The NFL announced Hester is this week’s recipient of the honor, extending Hester’s lead in the number of weekly special teams awards he’s won over everyone else who has ever played the game of football.

Hester earned the award this week with kickoff returns of 76 and 80 yards in a 31-30 victory over the Vikings. He accumulated 249 yards on kickoffs for the day, a busy day of work after getting only one return opportunity in Week One against the Bengals. Vikings rookie Cordarrelle Patterson returned a kickoff 105 yards for a touchdown to open the game, so there may have been something in the water in Chicago last weekend.

The Bears stripped Hester of any role as a wide receiver this season, making him strictly a special teamer in hopes that it would boost his production as a returner. The early results are pretty good on that front.


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(chicago.cbslocal.com)
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Week 2 NFL proCane Photos

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proCane Texans WR Andre Johnson (80)
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Bears proCane KR Devin Hester (23)
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proCane Falcons P Mat Bosher
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proCane Colts WR Reggie Wayne (87)
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proCane Browns WR Travis Benjamin (80)
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proCane Cardinals DE Calais Campbell (93)


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Bears returner Devin Hester has mad skills

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Bears rookie linebacker Khaseem Greene has yet to take a snap on defense in two games, but he already feels he has a special niche in the NFL.

‘‘I’m blocking for Devin Hester, one of the greatest ever,’’ he said.

Greene had seen Hester on television taking over games with kick returns. But like other newcomers on the Bears’ special-teams units, he gets a special kick out of being one of they guys helping make Hester happen.

‘‘It’s awesome,’’ said Greene, a fourth-round draft pick from Rutgers. ‘‘Those returns gave me so much energy. Just knowing that I’m blocking for one of the greatest returners in the history of the game, it’s just phenomenal.

‘‘Just seeing how electrifying he is on the field, it makes you appreciate being here and puts things in perspective. I’m honored that I’m playing with such a great guy and a such a great football player.’’

Hester had one of those days against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday that reminds you just how good he can be when his mind is right, his legs fresh and his competitive fire is stoked. After Cordarrelle Patterson returned the opening kickoff 105 yards for a touchdown, a seething Hester motioned for the Vikings to ‘‘bring it on’’ and responded with kickoff returns of 76 and 80 yards. He added a 42-yard return in the fourth quarter — even his third-best kickoff return was the fourth longest in the NFL on Sunday — and averaged 49.8 yards on five kickoff returns, a franchise-record 249 total yards.

‘‘Whenever you get opportunities to make plays, you can showcase your talent,’’ said Hester, who per usual gave due credit to his teammates. ‘‘A lot of people said I lost it because I wasn’t getting the opportunities, so the stats weren’t there. Nowadays, that’s how you get judged as a player. If you don’t have the stats, you’ve lost it. [We got] more touches [against the Vikings], an opportunity to make plays, we were able to get some good returns.’’

It remains to be seen if Hester will be as universally dangerous this season as he has been. As much as he bristles at the notion that he lost it in 2012, the fact of the matter is that with 40 punt-return opportunities last year, he looked lost on many of them and averaged 8.3 yards, ranking 22nd in the NFL. The previous year, he led the NFL with 16.2 yards per return and two touchdowns. In 2010, he led the NFL with 17.1 yards per punt return and three touchdowns.

Even against the Vikings, Hester seemed to miss two punt-return opportunities when he let the ball fall in front of him and bound away. One was downed at the Bears’ 7-yard-line, the other at the 14. And you don’t have to remind him that he used to score on kick returns like the ones he had against the Vikings. He said he thought the Vikings were playing to contain him. Maybe they were. Maybe they weren’t. But he was so upset that he didn’t score on the 80-yarder he didn’t want to talk about it.

That’s good. He needs to stay motivated, fresh and apparently a little angry.

‘‘It’s a great win, but I wish I could have scored on one of the returns,’’ Hester said. ‘‘It’s a long season. We’ve got 14 more games left. Hopefully we’ll get in the end zone by the end of the year.’’


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(suntimes.com)
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Devin Hester takes anger out on Vikings

DevinHesterBears2
Devin Hester was personally offended Sunday when the Vikings returned the opening kickoff 105 yards to upstage him in front of his adoring home fans.

"It pissed me off to have someone take one out (of the end zone) and take one to the house. Oh, it pissed me off," Hester said after the Bears edged the Vikings 31-30.

After Cordarrelle Patterson tied a Vikings record with a 105-yard kickoff return, Hester returned Blair Walsh's ensuing kickoff 76 yards.

"Before the kickoff, I just said, 'I don't care how deep this guy kicks it, I am bringing it out,'" Hester said. "And that's the mentality I told my (special teams teammates) about. If you get punched in the mouth like that, we're not going to just fold down and back down. If you kick it 9 (yards) deep, we're coming out. So don't expect me to take a knee."

Hester broke his own franchise record for single-game kickoff return yards with 249. His previous mark was 225, set Dec. 11, 2006, at St. Louis.

"All I can say is that Hester is amazing," said Bears tight end Martellus Bennett, whose 16-yard touchdown catch decided the game with 10 seconds remaining. "Anytime he touches the ball, I say, 'OK, what's going to happen?' He put us in great field position the whole day. They did a great job blocking. Sometimes when he gets the ball, I am a spectator. I am cheering, I'm jumping. It's just fun to watch him back there.

"We always joke with him that, 'You've got to make your money this week. You're just returning kicks.' He earned his check today."

Hester said he is pleased he has relinquished his duties as a wide receiver this season to concentrate solely on returning kicks and punts.

"My legs are a lot fresher," he said. "Even during the week, I'm saving my legs. Not a lot of running in practice. That is a key factor."

Hester's 76-yard kickoff return set up the Bears offense to quickly retaliate with a five-play, 32-yard scoring drive, capped by a 1-yard pass from Jay Cutler to Bennett.

"That was huge," Cutler said of Hester's long return. "He was there all day long. He was averaging 50 yards a kickoff return. It's hard to win the game with four turnovers. ... You can't do it without great special teams play and great defense."

Patterson's day wasn't too shabby, either. The rookie from Tennessee averaged 49.7 yards on three returns. His 105-yarder tied the club mark set by Percy Harvin last year.

"I was coming into the game and thinking about (Hester)," Patterson said. "Every time he touched the ball, it motivated me."

Hester also had an 80-yard kickoff return in the second quarter. He averaged 49.8 yards on five returns.

"(Hester) was a big factor in the game, not only when he had his hands on the ball, but he was also a factor in the game when they didn't want to kick to him (on punts) because we had field position. I thought that was awesome," coach Marc Trestman said.

"We knew we were due to have a good game on the returns," Hester said. "On special teams we felt like we came out and played — besides the first play. ... (Trestman) said before we ever broke the locker room that we might get punched the first play of the game, but it's how good we can bounce back. That's what we did."


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(chicagotribune.com)
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Devin Hester will be 'fresh'

DevinHesterBears2
It has almost occurred on cue. Now that the Chicago Bears have made Devin Hester solely a returner, rather than try to double him up on offense, the truth comes out. Speaking with Jon Greenberg of ESPNChicago.com this week, Hester said he expects to be "fresh" now for all of his returns.

Hester: "I'm not going to be tired when I'm out there. My legs are going to be fresh. That's the key thing, me being fresh. Returners have to be fresh. It's impossible to go 50-60 snaps on offense and try to return the whole game. I'm in the stage where I'm in a good mood to do what I love doing."

I can't tell you how many times we exchanged that sentiment on the blog over the past few years. Expecting Hester, or anyone else, to be an elite returner while also playing regularly on offense didn't seem realistic. In fact, Hester estimates he'll touch the ball more on a per-game basis now than he did in multiple roles before.

"I know during the season I'm going to touch the ball five or six times a game," Hester said. "I mean, when I was playing offense I was only touching the ball once or twice on offense. If you add it up, I'll probably be touching the ball a little more and be fresher to do what I love doing."

Makes sense to me.


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(espn.com)
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Potential cut victim Devin Hester has eyes on Hall of Fame

DevinHesterBears2
Devin Hester is pretty sure the Chicago Bears aren’t going to cut him before the start of the 2013 season and even more sure that a spot in Canton awaits him.

The 30-year-old return star talked to the Chicago Tribune about his Hall of Fame chances.

“I have one foot in right now. If I take three or four back this year, it should be considered 80 percent chance of making it. But I am not really worried about it right now. I am really focused on this season. After this season, when all the stats add up, hopefully it won’t be a question.”

Once again, Hester isn’t a lock to make the Bears final roster, though it’s assumed the team will retain him, since his contract ends after this season and his cap hit isn’t unwieldy. Even so, he talks about taking “three or four” back for a touchdown like it’s nothing. He’s completely nonchalant about it. Hester might as well have been asked how many pieces of pizza he was going to have at dinner.

Hester has the second-most return TDs in NFL history. With one more, he’ll tie Deion Sanders at the top. But even getting that isn’t assured. In the past five years, Hester has six total return TDs. In three of those years, including 2012, he’s been completely shut out. In other words, returning kicks for touchdowns ain’t easy.

That’s not to say Hester is out of line with his bravado. All the great return men have it. Think of Deion and Brian Mitchell. They were the best and weren’t afraid to tell you. It takes a certain kind of personality to be a great returner. Hester needs to go into this season thinking that getting three or four return TDs is nothing. If he doesn’t, he’s like a fighter pilot who lacks confidence or a rapper with self-esteem issues. It’s hard to succeed. These are traits that are inherently necessary to success in certain endeavors.

Hester has his swag. Will the touchdowns, and a spot in Canton, follow?


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(usatoday.com)
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Early returns on Hester are positive

DevinHesterBears2
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The early returns on Devin Hester's transition to full-time special teamer have been encouraging.

Without the responsibility of having to take a single rep at wide receiver, Hester has looked fresh and re-energized when given the opportunity to return kickoffs during the preseason. The NFL record holder for combined kick-return touchdowns with 17, Hester almost broke the opening kickoff last week against the San Diego Chargers, but he was tripped up after a 45-yard return.

"He was pretty close," Bears special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis said. "The kicker made a nice play and then also the safety from the back side. It was just good to get him some action, some real action. It was good to see those guys blocking the way they did, too, because there was definitely some holes out there, which was nice to see."

Hester also was credited with a 23-yard kickoff return in the Bears' preseason opener in Carolina when he decided to run the ball out after fielding it in the back of the end zone. The Bears have given Hester the green light on kickoff returns in both exhibition games. That aggressive style doesn't just help Hester, it allows the rest of the return team members to practice setting up their blocks.

"Even when Devin was having those big years, Devin had some big holes to go through," DeCamillis said. "We just got to do a better job of getting some holes for him at the start, and then, you know, he's gotta go and play better also. So it's a combination of all of those. I've got to help him schematically with what we're doing. Guys gotta block better, and he's gotta return better. That's what we've been working on all camp, and hopefully it starts to show up."

DeCamillis also has taken notice of undrafted rookie Michael Ford, who is fighting to earn a roster spot at running back. With Armando Allen sidelined last week due to a hamstring injury, Ford helped his cause with a 100-yard kickoff return against the Chargers. He finished the game with three returns for 160 yards.

"It would be tough not to like what you saw in a Michael Ford," DeCamillis said. "He did a great job. On his long one, that wasn't one of the better blocked returns that we had all night. He made a guy miss right in the hole. So that was a great run by him, and he did a better job on coverage, too. So he's making it tough. He's doing a good job of what we need to see from him, that's for sure."


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(espn.com)
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Devin Hester Getting Competition

DevinHesterBears2
Chicago Bears RB Michael Ford could provide some competition for WR Devin Hester as the team's return man after breaking three tackle on a 100-yard kickoff return. Ford could also make the team as the third running back with RB Armando Allen (hamstring) dealing with a hamstring issue.


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(kffl.com)
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Devin Hester hoping for a healthy return

DevinHesterBears2
BOURBONNAIS — Most Bears players have professed to being unfazed by general manager Phil Emery’s ‘‘no-contract-extension’’ edict. But none more so than Devin Hester.

With his NFL stock at an all-time low after a dreadful 2012 season, the kick returner can’t wait to play out the final year of his contract. He needs to.

‘‘I can’t speak for the others, but I’m more excited that this is my contract year,’’ Hester said as the Bears opened training camp Thursday in Bourbonnais. ‘‘I’d rather do my contract after the season is over, because the way I’m feeling now, I could boost my stock a whole lot from where it’s at now.’’

Hester is in the final year of a four-year, $40 million extension of his rookie contract he signed after a two-day training-camp holdout in 2008. He’ll be a dedicated kick returner for the first time in his career. Hester played cornerback as a rookie in 2006. He played wide receiver from 2007 to 2012. But after Hester struggled on offense (23 receptions, 242 yards, one touchdown) and kick returns last season, new coach Marc Trestman is hoping to revitalize Hester’s career by letting him do what he does best.

Hester, who will turn 31 in November, has a lot to prove. And he knows it.

‘‘I have to prove myself every year,’’ he said. ‘‘This is a league where only the best survive. I do feel like I am an elite player. I still have a lot left in the tank. For some of the guys that felt like I lost a step, it’s a burning fire that’s under my foot to prove [it] to not only you guys [reporters], but my family as well. I will show it this year.’’


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(suntimes.com)
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Devin Hester's 'prove-it' camp

DevinHesterBears2
A report that Chicago Bears kick returner Devin Hester has joined the Tennessee Titans' Chris Johnson in racing a cheetah -- ! -- merits a review of Hester's unique situation entering training camp.

Hester threatened retirement in the wake of the firing of coach Lovie Smith but later re-committed to the team under new coach Marc Trestman. But Trestman has removed him from the receiver group and made him a full-time returner, a relatively unusual luxury in today's NFL. Trestman and general manager Phil Emery have been careful to say that Hester must win a spot on the roster, which is technically the case for every player but not usually something verbalized about someone who has been one of the best in football history at his position.

Hester is due to earn $2.1 million and count nearly $3 million against the Bears' salary cap. If he proves to be the dynamic returner of old, those figures might not be a problem. But if he's not? That's what training camp is for, I guess.


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(espn.com)
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Chris Johnson, Devin Hester race a cheetah on cable

DevinHesterBears2
And now a story about the time Chris Johnson and Devin Hester raced a cheetah on basic cable.

The Tennessee Titans running back and Chicago Bears return specialist raced the great cat during a "Nat Geo Wild" special that will air in November during Big Cat Week, which in no way is attempting to co-opt the success of Discovery Channel's Shark Week.

"This is the most incredible challenge I've ever faced," Johnson told TheWrap.com. "I wanted to go up against the fastest in the world and test myself, and this was it!"

Johnson still holds the combine record in the 40-yard dash, running a 4.24 in 2008. He previously has stated he could beat record-setting Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt in a race.

We have serious doubts Johnson could beat Bolt in the 40, but we know he's not toasting a cheetah. According to people who knows these things, the cheetah can accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour in three seconds.

We haven't seen speed like that on a football field since Bo Jackson in "Tecmo Bowl."


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(nfl.com)
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Trading or cutting Hester would be easy, cheap for Bears

DevinHesterBears2
If Devin Hester is “competing” to be the primary return man for the Bears, there’s a chance he’ll lose the competition.

Which means there’s a chance he’ll lose his job.

If the Bears decide to make a change, it would be simple to accomplish for a cap standpoint.  Hester is in the final year of his contract, at a base salary of $1.857 million.  With or without him on the roster, the Bears will carry a bonus proration of $833,335, according to a source with knowledge of the terms of the deal.  He also has earned a workout bonus of $250,000 (assuming he participated in the requisite number of offseason sessions).

As a result, trading Hester or cutting him would clear his $1.857 million from the Bears’ books, with no further acceleration or charge beyond the $1.083 million in bonuses that already apply.

Presumably, the Bears would prefer to trade Hester, if they choose not to keep him.  By trading him, the Bears can control where he lands.  Or, more accurately, where he doesn’t land.  After giving the other teams in the NFC North fits since 2006, one of them surely would be interested in giving Hester a chance, twice this year, to stick it to the Bears.


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(profootballtalk.com)
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Devin Hester no lock for roster spot on Chicago Bears

DevinHesterBears2
The Chicago Bears don't even allow Devin Hester to wear the same colored jersey as the other Bears wide receivers in practice. He's a return man, and a return man only.

But is a he return man who's guaranteed to make the roster?

CSNChicago.com's John Mullin wrote Sunday night that Hester is just "working to hold on" to the primary return job in offseason practice. Other players like Earl Bennett have been returning kicks in practice. And Bears coach Marc Trestman has said that Hester is "competing" to win the returner job.

The Bears have given up on Hester playing a role on offense. Since he's due $1.85 million this season, the Bears are giving him every chance to earn his worth as a return man only. If Trestman doesn't think Hester can be a difference-maker after watching him in training camp, it's still possible Hester won't even make the team.


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(nfl.com)

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Devin Hester having to prove his worth as returner

DevinHesterBears2
The Bears are going to make Devin Hester solidify his roster position as a returner, creating an interesting dynamic as it is difficult to evaluate special teams without live action.

A coverage team running down the field in Bourbonnais isn't the same kind of challenge for Hester or his blockers when hitting isn't involved. They're not moving as fast as in a game either. So special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis, coach Marc Trestman and general manager Phil Emery face a challenge to ensure Hester remains an elite game-changer.

Trestman is dedicated to maintaining the team's solid standing in special teams, and the Bears get ample work in practice. They spent time on kickoff return Wednesday, and it didn't look like Hester, 30, had lost a step.

But isn't it hard to determine where Hester is without an actual game?

"It is and it isn't," DeCamillis said. "One of the things he's done a great job of is he's got a lot of reps. He's got a lot of catches. He's got a lot of situational things we've done. He's in a great frame of mind right now. He is right where we need him to be.

"Obviously, the competition part of it is going to come from the games, but it is also going to come in practices. We'll get him evaluated that way as well."

Hester has done little return work in the preseason in recent years because the goal always has been to ensure he's healthy for the regular season. In the last five years, he has returned five punts in the preseason (one for 54 yards) and made three fair catches. He hasn't returned a kickoff since the 2008 preseason.
Hester, who has a base salary of $1.85 million in the final year of his contract and will count $2.94 million against the salary cap, struggled last season in the return game, and former coordinator Dave Toub said it was a mental issue.

His punt-return average of 8.3 yards was nearly half of his mark in 2011, when he had three return scores. He made errors fielding some balls, and there were issues with the blocking units as well. But Hester is not worried about proving his value in practice this summer.

"I look at my past history and I know what I am capable of doing," he said. "We all know I am the best return man that is stepping on this field. Coach Joe D. and I, we have spent a lot of time watching film on some of the things that can be corrected. It's a team thing."

Hester believes his legs will be fresher for returns now that he has been removed from the offense. That, he says, will make him feel like he did in 2006 and 2007, when he scored 11 of his 17 career return touchdowns.

"I was always explosive then," he said.

Hester said DeCamillis has made minor adjustments to the schemes, trying to ensure big guys are blocking big guys and smaller players are manned up on smaller players. It comes down to Hester following a key block and then finding a way to dominate with his athletic ability.

"The mistakes that I made and the mistakes that we made as a unit, those are easy to correct," he said. "At the end of the day, I am the best returner in this game, and I know that for a fact. What man can sit here and tell me that I lost it when I know what I am capable of doing?"


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(chicagotribune.com)
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Expectations High for Devin Hester

DevinHesterBears2
Special teams have long been a strong area for the Bears. That shouldn't change this season, with a new special teams coordinator and extra pressure on return man Devin Hester and punter Adam Podlesh.

Instead of splitting time between offense and special teams, Hester will focus solely on returns this season. He is already liking the change.

“I’m having fun,” Hester said. “I feel more energized, more in shape as far as my legs being fresh by limiting some of my reps. It reminds me of my first two years.”

During his first two years, Hester was tough to stop as a return man. He had 11 kickoff return touchdowns, including a memorable one in the Super Bowl. He also had a limited role as a wide receiver, making just 20 catches in two seasons.

Podlesh has competition, as the Bears signed Tress Way, a free agent punter. Special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis said way has a chance to win the roster spot.

"I view him as a competitor," DeCamillis said of Way. "He has some positive things. He has a chance."

Podlesh struggled at times last season. He improved as the season went on, but the Bears are making sure that he stays consistent this season. They are scheduled to pay him more than $1 million this season, so Way is around to ensure Podlesh does his best through camp.

The biggest takeaway from this is the Bears are investing heavily in special teams. They brought in a coach with a proven track record. They are devoting a roster spot to a return man and making a punter highly paid. They are going to expect an immediate return on their investment, so the pressure is on for Hester, Podlesh and the rest of the special teams to perform.


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(nbcchicago.com)
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The return of the returner: Bears’ Hester says he feels energized

DevinHesterBears2
The oft-stated offseason plan for Devin Hester was to focus on being the Bears’ kick returner. General manager Phil Emery and coach Marc Trestman said it months ago and repeated it again this week.

But there was Hester in a backpedal, covering a receiver Wednesday during the second day of minicamp at Halas Hall. He took a turn during a drill that matched defensive backs against receivers.

“Yeah,” Hester said afterward. “I was just out there playing around.”

And that’s just it. Hester said he’s still having fun even though he has been relegated to watching from the sideline with other specialists for long stretches at practice.

Does he ever look at the receivers and wish he was still working with them like he did under former coach Lovie Smith?

“Nah, I’m past that,” Hester said. “It’s a new season. I’m looking forward to what Coach has in mind for me this year.”

Again, that’s returning to form as the NFL’s best return man. In that regard, Hester said he feels rejuvenated.

“I’m having fun,” Hester said. “I feel more energized, more in shape as far as my legs being fresh by limiting some of my reps. It reminds me of my first two years.”


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(suntimes.com)
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Aaron Hester, Devin's cousin, ready to make his own name in the NFL

DevinHesterBears2
Aaron Hester, a cornerback from UCLA, has never met his famous cousin, Bears kick returner Devin Hester. But he'd love to. And he'd also like to cover and tackle him.

"I can probably guard him," a laughing Aaron Hester told the Sun-Times. "Yeah, I can guard him."

Hester may get his chance soon enough. Hester, a 6-2, 198-pound corner, said teams are telling him he can go in "the middle rounds" in this year's draft. He's had a private workout with the Jacksonville Jaguars and has heard from the New York Giants, Washington Redskins, Minnesota Vikings, Houston Texans and others.

"There's a pretty good number of teams, but I'm just waiting until I hear my name called," said Hester, who participated in the NFL combine and had a solid pro day. "I'm just chilling and relaxing with family. I'm not throwing a big party or anything. I might have something after I get drafted. But right now, the plan is just to chill and hope for the best."

This is considered a very deep class for cornerbacks with Alabama's Dee Milliner and Florida State's Xavier Rhodes at the top of most rankings. Bears general manager Phil Emery has lauded this year's depth at corner more than once. The Bears could use a young corner behind Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman, who are both in the final years of their contracts.

"I feel like I'm just as good as any corner in this draft class," Hester said. "People might be rated higher and stuff like that. But I feel like when I actually get to the NFL I can be in the upper echelon of corners in this class, even though I might not get drafted as high as some of the corners in this draft. But it's not about how high you get drafted. It's about what you do when you get there. People get drafted high and only get one contract in the league. That's not my plan. I want to have longevity. I think I have the size, the tools and everything to play a long time."

One advantage Hester has over other corners is that he's had the chance to work with two of best corners currently in the NFL -- Richard Sherman and Darrelle Revis. Hester was a high school teammate of Sherman's in California.

"I feel like this year he was the best corner in football," Hester said. "[Sherman] had one of the best seasons I've ever seen from a corner. I look up to him. We text back and forth and talk on the phone and everything. We play the same exact press technique at the line of scrimmage. It's effective for him in the NFL, so I'm going to try to master that press technique.

"Press coverage is my forte, but I can play anything. It's just mastering my skills, and getting good at what I'm good at. People always say to work on your weakness, but [Sherman] told me, 'Why don't you just master your strengths?' That kind of stuck with me."

Hester had a chance to work with Revis in Arizona, while Revis was rehabilitating a torn ACL. He also had some different advice for Hester, telling him not too focus too much on "basic drills."

"[Revis] said think about how many times in the game that you are really doing something that standard," Hester said. "He told me to work on getting myself out of bad positions. So I'll back pedal, turn and reverse flip and then back pedal, turn and then inside flip. I'm just doing stuff to get my change of direction better and to get myself out of bad positions and allow myself to make plays on the ball in the NFL. Because these receivers are good, they can get you going one way, but it's about how you recover and the end result of the play."

Hester, a three-year starter at UCLA with five career interceptions, doesn't have any character concerns.

"I don't have any problems with authority or getting coached up or anything like that," he said. "I'm a good guy. I go hard. I go hard for my team. My motivation comes from within. I try to go hard every single day."

As for his more famous cousin, Hester has nothing but praise.

"It's pretty cool [to be Devin Hester's cousin]," Aaron Hester said. "I want to meet the guy real bad. I'm anxious to meet him, chop it up with him, see what he's like and everything like that.

"But he's an awesome player, one of the most dynamic players that we've ever seen in this football league. Definitely, he's the greatest returner and definitely in the top 5 of the most dynamic players ever."

Hester, though, wants to make his own name in the NFL.

"Hopefully, I'll be on the field playing with him," he said. "I feel like my best football is ahead of me."


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(blog.suntimes.com)
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Devin Hester focused on producing, not retiring

DevinHesterBears2
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Despite comments indicating a possible desire to retire in the wake of the firing of former head coach Lovie Smith, veteran Bears return man Devin Hester admitted Thursday his remarks came as a result of overwhelming emotion, not his true intentions.

Upon hearing the news of Smith's firing back in December, Hester, clearly distraught, said, “I don't even know if I want to play again. That's been something on my mind for two years. It's not (much fun anymore). I've got my workers comp papers in my pocket. I'm going to go home and talk to my wife, and talk to my family and see where we go from there.”

Obviously, Hester determined a return to the football field was the best course of action.

“That was in the past,” Hester said. “At the same time, people were just emotional, upset. So I would say that (my remarks were) emotion and upset coming out of me. I really wasn't thinking about what I was saying. That's in the past. You say things you really don't mean when you're upset. That's how it was.”

Now, Hester is in a better state emotionally with the new regime limiting him strictly to duties on special teams, after spending the majority of his career also moonlighting at receiver. Hester holds the NFL record for career kick return touchdowns (17), and career punt return TDs (12) and needs one more return TD to tie Deion Sanders for the most overall.

A missed field goal returned for a touchdown gives Hester 18 total return TDs.

What sold Hester on his new stripped-down duties as a specialist was simply the new regime's desire to see him succeed.

“They want to see me do good,” Hester said. “Whatever it takes to bring the special teams back, the return game back to what we used to have, they really, really wanted that. They told me, ‘This is your passion. You know what you're good at. You know what you're great at. Let's get it back to what it was.'”

That's all Hester needed to hear. In his new role, Hester spends all of his times with the specialists and special-teams coach Joe DeCamillis. Hester no longer participates in meetings with the club's receivers. Asked if he missed it, Hester said, “Not at all.”

In Hester's role as solely a specialist, he'll also receive opportunities to contribute on kick coverage teams as a gunner.

“We'll see. It'll be fun," he said. "It's something I haven't done in a while, but at the same time, I'm a team ballplayer, and whatever these guys need me, that's where I'm gonna fit."

Hester hasn't burned a defense for a return touchdown since the 2011 season, when he scored two TDs on punt returns and another on a kickoff. Hester once endured a two-year drought without a return score (2008 and 2009).

He's not expecting another scoreless season on returns in 2013.

“It's not only me, but the special-teams unit as well (that needs to return to what it used to be),” Hester said. “These (new coaches) are putting together a great group of guys on the special teams unit from the assignments to the players, and that's what we've been missing.”


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(espn.com)
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Devin Hester focused on producing, not retiring

DevinHesterBears2
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Despite comments indicating a possible desire to retire in the wake of the firing of former head coach Lovie Smith, veteran Bears return man Devin Hester admitted Thursday his remarks came as a result of overwhelming emotion, not his true intentions.

Upon hearing the news of Smith's firing back in December, Hester, clearly distraught, said, “I don't even know if I want to play again. That's been something on my mind for two years. It's not (much fun anymore). I've got my workers comp papers in my pocket. I'm going to go home and talk to my wife, and talk to my family and see where we go from there.”

Obviously, Hester determined a return to the football field was the best course of action.

“That was in the past,” Hester said. “At the same time, people were just emotional, upset. So I would say that (my remarks were) emotion and upset coming out of me. I really wasn't thinking about what I was saying. That's in the past. You say things you really don't mean when you're upset. That's how it was.”

Now, Hester is in a better state emotionally with the new regime limiting him strictly to duties on special teams, after spending the majority of his career also moonlighting at receiver. Hester holds the NFL record for career kick return touchdowns (17), and career punt return TDs (12) and needs one more return TD to tie Deion Sanders for the most overall.

A missed field goal returned for a touchdown gives Hester 18 total return TDs.

What sold Hester on his new stripped-down duties as a specialist was simply the new regime's desire to see him succeed.

“They want to see me do good,” Hester said. “Whatever it takes to bring the special teams back, the return game back to what we used to have, they really, really wanted that. They told me, ‘This is your passion. You know what you're good at. You know what you're great at. Let's get it back to what it was.'”

That's all Hester needed to hear. In his new role, Hester spends all of his times with the specialists and special-teams coach Joe DeCamillis. Hester no longer participates in meetings with the club's receivers. Asked if he missed it, Hester said, “Not at all.”

In Hester's role as solely a specialist, he'll also receive opportunities to contribute on kick coverage teams as a gunner.

“We'll see. It'll be fun," he said. "It's something I haven't done in a while, but at the same time, I'm a team ballplayer, and whatever these guys need me, that's where I'm gonna fit."

Hester hasn't burned a defense for a return touchdown since the 2011 season, when he scored two TDs on punt returns and another on a kickoff. Hester once endured a two-year drought without a return score (2008 and 2009).

He's not expecting another scoreless season on returns in 2013.

“It's not only me, but the special-teams unit as well (that needs to return to what it used to be),” Hester said. “These (new coaches) are putting together a great group of guys on the special teams unit from the assignments to the players, and that's what we've been missing.”

(espn.com)
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Devin Hester's Chicago Bears role to be expanded

DevinHesterBears2
Devin Hester is happy he won't be a wide receiver in the Chicago Bears' offense this season, but that doesn't mean new coach Marc Trestman will let him just return kicks.

For the second straight practice Wednesday, one of the greatest returners of all time also worked with the special teams coverage units.

"The biggest thing about a great gunner sometimes is the guy who can get there fastest," special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis said, via the Chicago Tribune. "We had a guy in Denver long time ago, he was an Olympic sprinter named Sam Graddy. Sam wasn't the best tackler in the world, but he sure caused a lot of fair catches. So hopefully we can expand (Hester's) role and see what happens.

"He has been a great returner and we want to add to that as much as we can. He's definitely going to be fresher to (cover) and that's something we're evaluating right now."

With three specialty players already on the roster -- kicker, punter, long snapper -- the Bears don't want a fourth player who only performs one duty.

Hester sounded upbeat about his role as a gunner earlier this week. He has to: If he can't play more than one position, he could find himself needing a Band-Aid before the regular season starts.


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Trestman: Hester has to be the returner

DevinHesterBears2
As the offensive players broke for individual drills Tuesday at the Walter Payton Center on Day 1 of voluntary minicamp, Devin Hester stood on the sideline swinging his helmet alongside long snapper Pat Mannelly, kicker Robbie Gould and punter Adam Podlesh.

For right now, Hester can no longer call himself a Chicago Bears receiver. He's fine with that. So are the Bears.

“I'll make it clear because I've been asked a number of times," new Bears coach Marc Trestman said. “Devin's gonna focus on being our returner. He's got to be the returner for him to be here. Once that's locked into place, which we expect that it will, then we'll see where it goes from there."

Asked at the NFL owners meetings in March whether Hester would practice with as a receiver during the offseason, Trestman expressed uncertainty, saying the matter hadn't yet been fully discussed. The coach left little doubt Tuesday about Hester's expected role.

Since the start of the 2011 season, Hester has caught 49 passes for 611 yards and two touchdown with the team looking for ways to give him more of a role on offense. Hester returned 40 punts last season for an 8.3-yard average, but didn't score a touchdown and also failed to find the end zone on any of his 24 kickoff returns in 2012.

The Bears hold a 13-4 record when Hester scores on a return.

“We made a collective decision organizationally. I've talked to the guys that have been here. (General manager) Phil (Emery) and I had a long conversation about it as well," Trestman said. “Just talking to Devin (I want to) let him get back to doing what he does best first. Then when that's all in place, we'll see if we need to or if we're in a position to be able to incorporate him in doing more things."

Set to earn $1.857 million in the final year of his contract, Hester isn't spending time in the meeting rooms with his fellow receivers, and he isn't learning the new offense. Instead, as a specialist, that's where he's spending all his time: with special-teams coach Joe DeCamillis.

“He'll spend all his time with Joe," Trestman said. “When we're in an offensive meeting, he'll be with Joe. He'll be with (long snapper) Pat. He'll be with Robbie and the kickers. He'll be spending time totally focused in on being the best returner in the National Football League."


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Devin Hester's special teams role could grow

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LAKE FOREST, Ill. – There is a possibility Devin Hester could be asked to do more than return kicks next season for the Chicago Bears.

In addition to serving as the Bears' primary return man, Hester lined up on the second-team kickoff and punt-team coverage units during the second day of the team's voluntary mini-camp.

While the Bears already have a strong nucleus of special teams tacklers already on the roster, such as Blake Costanzo, Eric Weems, Zack Bowman, Sherrick McManis and Craig Steltz, special teams coach Joe DeCamillis said after the workout the Bears are evaluating Hester for an expanded role on special teams, seeing as how he no longer participates on offense or sits in on offensive meetings.

"He's definitely going to be fresher to do those things," DeCamillis said of Hester covering kicks. "Again, that's something we are evaluating right now and still working on all those things. He'll be working on all the cover teams, and he'll also be working on other things for us too. He's a great weapon, and we want to try and use him as much as we can."

Although Hester rose to NFL stardom due to his ability to avoid tacklers, he does have experience on defense and actually entered the league in 2006 as a cornerback. Hester had 11 tackles his rookie season before the Bears moved him to wide receiver the following year, but at least there is some history of Hester attempting to take down a ballcarrier in live game action.

Regardless of how serious the Bears are about having Hester cover kicks, DeCamillis said the three-time Pro Bowl return man reported to the offseason program sporting a terrific attitude.

"Change is hard for a lot of people," DeCamillis said. "We all have to go through it in this league. He probably said too much at the start (of the offseason), but he's in a great frame of mind right now and we want to get him back to where he was."


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(espn.com)
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Devin Hester not among Bears receivers

DevinHesterBears2
Devin Hester was conspicuous by his lack of participation in the Bears' first minicamp practice under new head coach Marc Trestman.

Hester was not involved with the receivers at any time during Tuesday's practice inside the Walter Payton Center at Halas Hall.

And that was by design of the coaching staff.

About the only activity Hester had was fielding a handful of punts, although he did join other special teamers in a kick-coverage drill that involved taking a tackling dummy to the ground.

Under Lovie Smith, Hester was touted as the Bears' No. 1 receiver, and for a brief moment in time that almost seemed possible.

He caught 57 passes for 757 yards in 2009. But his receptions and yardage have plummeted in each of the past three seasons. It dropped all the way to 23 catches and 242 yards last season, when he was a mere footnote to the offense.

So for now Hester is exclusively a special-teams player.

"I'll make it clear because I have been asked that a number of times," Trestman said. "Devin is going to focus on being our returner.

"He's got to be the returner for him to be here, and once that is locked into place, which we expect that it will, then we'll see where it goes from there.

"We made a collective decision organizationally. I talked with the guys who have been here. (General manager) Phil (Emery) and I had a long conversation about it as well. Just talking to Devin, let him get back to doing what he does best first.

"Then, when that's all in place, we'll see if we need to or if we're in a position to, be able to incorporate him into doing more things."

Hester indicated that his role would expand from the current level of working only with special-teams coach Joe DeCamillis.

"During the season we're going to have stuff I'll be doing, not standing on the sidelines," Hester said. "I'll be catching punts, doing little small drills. I will stay motivated and stay conditioned.

"It's just a new year for me. Fresh start for me, new coaching staff."


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(dailyherald.com)
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Devin Hester fully on board with full-time focus on returning

DevinHesterBears2
Bears coach Marc Trestman said at the league meetings last month that he viewed Devin Hester as a kick returner rather than a wide receiver who also returns kicks and planned to use him that way.

At the time, Trestman said that reporters would have to ask Hester how he felt about that and that’s just what happened when Hester did an interview on WLS in Chicago Sunday. The answer is that Hester’s just fine with making returning his full-time job in 2013. Hester said it was “kind of” his idea to concentrate on returning after a disappointing 2012 season across the board so that he could get back to being the player he wants to be.

“My door is not closed on the offensive side of the ball. I’m still open to it,” Hester said, via the Chicago Sun-Times. “But as of right now, I know that I’m going here first into this season as the main kickoff return man. As of right now, that’s my main focus — to get my swagger back.”

Concentrating on what Hester does best seems like a good idea for both the Bears and Hester, especially with Hester sounding totally on board with the decision to try to build on his 18 career return touchdowns. It was a potent part of the Bears mix that was missing in 2012 and one they could really use in 2013.


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(profootballtalk.com)
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Devin Hester wants 'swagger' back for Chicago Bears

DevinHesterBears2
You can't say the Chicago Bears didn't try to translate Devin Hester's electric playmaking ability beyond special teams. It just never took.

Hester will be used exclusively as a kick and punt returner in 2013, ending an underwhelming career as a wide receiver. This is no issue for the three-time All-Pro.

"I'm fine with it," Hester said Sunday on WLS-AM (via the Chicago Sun-Times). "It was kind of my idea to let me more focus on my kickoff and punt return thing. ... It was more of my idea to do it."

Hester said he had a conversation with new Bears coach Marc Trestman at the start of the offseason. He had just 23 catches for 242 yards and a touchdown last season. His production also dipped as a return man.

"My door is not closed on the offensive side of the ball," Hester said. "I'm still open to it. But as of right now, I know that I'm going here first into this season as the main kickoff return man. As of right now, that's my main focus -- to get my swagger back."

Hester, 30, will be making good money ($1.86 million) for a specialized role. If the Bears didn't think Hester had a bounce-back season in him, they wouldn't bring him back.


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Devin Hester is OK with solely being a returner

DevinHesterBears2
Bears coach Marc Trestman said recently at the NFL owners meetings that you'd have to ask Devin Hester how he feels about being solely a kick returner for this upcoming season.

On Sunday night, Hester declared on "The J Mack and Nate Vash Show" on WLS-AM (890) that he's OK with it and is looking forward to getting his "swagger" back.

"I'm fine with it," Hester said on the show, which is hosted by former Bears fullback Jason McKie (@Jmack37). "It was kind of my idea to let me more focus on my kickoff and punt return thing. ... It was more of my idea to do it."

Hester said he spoke to Trestman before heading back to Florida this offseason. It was then when it was agreed that Hester would focus on regaining his form on special teams.

"Me and coach Trestman talked before I went home for the break and we came up with the idea that I would just go back to being a key return man -- a punt return and kickoff return man -- and a little bit more special teams," Hester said. "That would be what I know as of now my role to be for the upcoming season."

Again, Hester is OK with that.

Hester admittedly had a very frustrating season in 2012. He struggled with his returns, failing to return a kickoff or punt for a touchdown, and saw his roles on offense diminish as the season went on.

Hester had 23 catches for 242 yards and a touchdown last season. He averaged 8.3 yards per punt return and 25.9 yards on kickoff returns.

"My door is not closed on the offensive side of the ball. I'm still open to it," Hester said on the radio show. "But as of right now, I know that I'm going here first into this season as the main kickoff return man. As of right now, that's my main focus -- to get my swagger back."

That's got to sound good to Bears fans.

Hester -- arguably the best kick returner ever -- said he's been working on regaining his explosion through his offseason training.

"That's where I fell short of the past couple years," Hester said.

As for all the changes the Bears have undergone, Hester said the feel around the locker room is "very different," especially with Brian Urlacher and Lovie Smith gone. But he likes what Trestman is doing.

Hester described Trestman as "more of a hands-on, player-type guy" and said he likes the changes he's made to the locker room, mixing offensive and defensive players.

"He's trying to stop the separation of guys hanging out with their position," Hester said. "Now the team, everybody is just hanging out with each other. ... That small little thing is kind of helping out a little bit. I can tell."

Hester, who has 18 return touchdowns in his career, did have a message for fans on "The J Mack and Nate Vash Show."

"Don't lose faith in me because I'm always full of surprises," he said.


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(suntimes.com)
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Devin Hester declares he’s a Bear for life

DevinHesterBears2
Bears receiver/return specialist Devin Hester periodically has created the impression that he may not be returning to the Bears in 2013.  According to Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com, Hester strongly suggested on Tuesday that he’ll be back.

Hester said on his verified Instagram account that he is a “bear 4 life.”

It’s unclear whether Hester means that literally or figuratively.  The full message, complete with the term “Beardown” and multiple exclamation points, implies that Hester will be back.

The bigger question is whether the reference to being a “bear 4 life” at a time when Hester is entering the final year of his contract means that Hester has signed a new contract with the Bears.

Indeed, it’s hard to be a “bear 4 life” if the contract applies to only one more season.


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(profootballtalk.com)
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Devin Hester no longer wide receiver for Chicago Bears

DevinHesterBears2
Devin Hester admitted at the end of last season that football no longer was fun. Arguably the greatest return man in NFL history even talked about retirement, but new coach Marc Trestman still wants him around.

But not on offense.

Trestman told Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune on Wednesday that Hester "feels really good" about the team's plans to use him strictly as a specialist going forward. The plan is to line up second-year pass-catcher Alshon Jeffery as a starter across from Brandon Marshall, Trestman added.

The move is long overdue. Hester underwhelmed during his 46 starts at wideout over the past five seasons. As electrifying as he can be on special teams, the 30-year-old pulled down just 26 passes for 242 yards last year.

Jeffery endured struggles of his own last season, battling through hand and knee injuries as a rookie. He has a tendency to make a big play before vanishing, but Jeffery is a better fit for Trestman's vertical passing game.


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(nfl.com)
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Devin Hester talks with ESPN




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Cooler heads prevail in Devin Hester saga?

DevinHesterBears2
When we last heard from Chicago Bears returner/receiver Devin Hester, he had backed off his threat to retire but was still suggesting he might benefit from a fresh start with another franchise. Tuesday, Hester used a post on his Instagram account to imply he has had a change of heart.

The post read: "For all my Bears fan #yes. I'm a bear 4 life.# Beardown!!!!!

(For those wondering, Hester verified this Instagram via Twitter in January.)

So what exactly does it mean that Hester is a "bear 4 life?" At this point, all we can say is that Hester expects to play for the Bears in 2013. Update: Many of you are wondering if Hester is saying he will be a "bear 4 life" even though he plans to move on to another team. I don't think that's the case, but I guess I should acknowledge that possibility. My understanding is that the Bears have plans for him in 2013 and don't want him to move on.

Entering this week, Hester had one year remaining on the contract extension he signed in 2008. It called for a $1.857 million base salary, a $250,000 workout bonus and a cap figure of $2.940 million. The Bears could lower that cap number a bit through either a reduction of that base salary or a contract extension, but as of Tuesday evening I've not confirmed that Hester has a new deal.

In the end, of course, it's difficult to predict the futures of most NFL players beyond the upcoming season, regardless of their contract status. What we can reasonably say is that, after a predictable emotional reaction to the Bears' coaching staff and his own stalled career as a receiver, cooler heads have prevailed. (At least, that's my take on it.)

It's not hard to imagine that new Bears special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis would prefer Hester, the greatest returner in NFL history, on his team rather than elsewhere. It's not clear if the Bears have any plans for Hester on offense -- Bears general manager Phil Emery said last month at the NFL scouting combine that Hester will "compete to be our returner" -- but Hester might well be satisfied with that role.

The Bears have an established three-receiver set of Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Earl Bennett and could add to it through the draft. I would back a decision to de-emphasize Hester from the Bears' offense to focus him as a returner. Using him in both roles always felt like burning the proverbial candle at both ends. As he approaches his 31st birthday, it's best for Hester and the Bears to understand what he is -- and isn't.


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(espn.com)
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Are Devin Hester's days at WR over?

DevinHesterBears2
INDIANAPOLIS -- Devin Hester's days of lining up at wide receiver in Chicago might be over.

Bears general manager Phil Emery made no mention of Hester contributing on offense on Thursday when he responded to a question about the three-time Pro Bowler's current role on the team. Rather, Emery told reporters that Hester will "compete" for the club's return job in the offseason, if he remains on the roster. Hester, who has one-year left on his contract, has said publicly that he is open to the idea of being traded.

"Right now, he is back," Emery said. "He'll go out there and compete to be our returner. What he does from beyond there will be determined how he does in that first role as a returner."

Arguably the greatest returner in the history of the game, Hester struggled on punt return last year where he averaged just 8.3 yards per return, but still accounted for a respectable 25.9 yards on kickoff return.

The real issue for Hester has been his inability to develop chemistry with quarterback Jay Cutler in the passing game. Hester caught only 23 passes last season for 242 yards and one touchdown. While Cutler is far from blameless when it comes to Hester's decline as a wide receiver, Hester did fail to capitalize on several key opportunities in 2012 which hurt himself and the team. It's difficult to imagine Hester and Cutler ever getting on the same page, which is why the idea of the Bears moving on from Hester seems plausible.

Hester still has plenty of supporters around the league who believe he can succeed on offense in the right system and with the right quarterback, but the odds of that occurring in Chicago seem slim to none.


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(espn.com)
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Bears GM Phil Emery on Devin Hester: ‘He’ll compete to be our returner’

DevinHesterBears2
INDIANAPOLIS — Devin Hester is back where he started — returning kicks and only returning kicks for the Bears. For now.

‘‘He’ll compete to be our returner,’’ general manager Phil Emery said Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. ‘‘What he does beyond that depends on how he performs in that first role as a returner.’’

Hester’s production at wide receiver has diminished in four seasons with Jay Cutler at quarterback — from 57 receptions in 2009 to 40 in 2010 to 26 in 2011 before bottoming out in 2012. He had 23 receptions for 242 yards (10.5 yards per catch) and failed to score on a kickoff return.

‘‘Devin is a very versatile athlete,’’ Emery said. ‘‘We’re looking forward to him working with us in OTAs and see how we come out.’’


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(suntimes.com)
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Marc Trestman admits Devin Hester could be done

DevinHesterBears2
New Bears coach Marc Trestman admits Devin Hester could be done in Chicago.

"(We) had a chance to talk a few minutes but we didn’t get specific on anything," Trestman said. "Just an opportunity to get to know each other but not to put in concrete what his role would be if he winds up coming back." Trestman's "winds up coming back" remark makes it clear Hester is more likely to be cut than retained. It sounds like both sides want a fresh start.


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(rotoworld.com)
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Devin Hester's future with the Bears still unknown

DevinHesterBears2
From saying he's mulling retirement to suggesting that he may need a fresh start somewhere else, there hasn't been a Bears player who has garnered more headlines post-Lovie Smith than star returner Devin Hester.

And Hester remained a hot topic Thursday when the Bears introduced their new coordinators and assistant coaches at the Walter Payton Center.

New Bears head coach Marc Trestman and new special teams coordinator/assistant head coach Joe DeCamillis have both spoken with Hester, who has one year remaining on his contract.

"I have had some contact with him. It was really brief contact," DeCamillis said. "But we just have to evaluate that along with everything else. As you get into a new job, you've got to evaluate everything and that's one of the pieces we definitely have to evaluate."

Trestman met Hester in person.

"It was just an opportunity to get to know each other and not to put into concrete exactly what his role would be if he wants to come back," Trestman said.

Hester is coming off very frustrating season. He struggled with his returns, failing to return a kickoff or punt for a touchdown, and saw his roles on the Bears' offense diminish.

Hester finished with 23 catches for 242 yards and a touchdown. He averaged 8.3 yards per punt return and 25.9 yards on kickoff returns.

What did DeCamillis make of Hester's season?

"It's hard to say whether he had the same opportunities every time [or] whether he didn't," he said. "We've watched the film and we'll be going over it another two to three times before we make a determination. Just like any other player, we want to make sure they have a chance to be successful. Devin is no different. We want to try to make all our players as successful as possible."

Hester's decision-making often came into question last season. Speaking in general terms, DeCamillis stressed the importance of a returner's decision-making on Thursday.

"It's something ... that we really try to stress a lot," he said. "I think you almost need to be a quarterback back there. You need to have a quarterback's mentality and really try to make decisions based on what's best for your football team. We're going to try to impress that on all our guys."

DeCamillis said he's under the impression that Hester remains under contract, but he stopped short of saying that he prefers that Hester returns.

"I would prefer to be [with] what's best for the Bears," DeCamillis said. "I know that's the company line, but that's really the truth. I want to do what's best for the Chicago Bears and make sure whoever is out there is best guy that we can get."

Assistant special teams coach Dwayne Stukes said it would be exciting to work with Hester if he does return to the Bears.

"We've watched film since we've been here, looking at Devin," Stukes told the Sun-Times. "We're excited to work with Devin -- I know I am, personally -- and to get him back to where he was in the past years. Last year, in our minds, it was what it was. Now, it's time to start anew like he wants and this is a new start for him."


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(suntimes.com)
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Devin Hester open to a trade

DevinHesterBears2
Devin Hester backed off talk of retirement but believes a "fresh start" with another team might be best, and the record-setting return man said he is not interested in playing receiver if he is back with the Chicago Bears.

"I'm going to try to get two or three more years in," Hester told the Chicago Tribune. "I think I have that much left in me.

"At the same time, I think I do need a fresh start."

Hester, 30, was so frustrated with his season, he talked about retiring after Lovie Smith was fired on Dec. 31. That is no longer an option for Hester, but he doesn't want to go through another season on offense like the one he had in 2012, when he caught 23 passes for 242 yards.”

"To be honest with you, if I'm still here, I don't want to play offense," Hester told the Tribune. "I don't think my role [on offense] will fit. I can't truly say that with the new offense, but from past experience, I don't think it will fit."

Hester, who will make about $2.1 million in the final year of his contract next season, said he wouldn't rule out asking for a trade.

"It's a possibility. I'm loyal to my team," Hester said. "But the fans and my teammates have to understand where I'm coming from. I don't want to walk away from this game with another season going the way it ended this year. ... It might have to take a fresh start somewhere else."

Hester's 12 punt returns for touchdowns are an NFL record, and his next return for a score will tie him with Deion Sanders for the most combined return touchdowns in NFL history with 19. But he hasn't returned one for a score since Oct. 16, 2011, a span of 25 games.

After establishing himself as the game's premier return man in 2006, Hester added receiving duties in 2007. He posted a career-best 57 catches in 2009, but his totals have dropped in each of the past three seasons. He was targeted just 40 times in 2012, good for sixth on the Bears.

"Not only this year, but the last couple of years it has been like that," Hester told the Tribune. "It was really starting to show, why I was frustrated. I'm not making any excuses. I know some of the plays I should have made in terms of catching the ball. But I just wasn't feeling it. My mind wasn't there the majority of the time."

Former receivers coach Darryl Drake said before the 2012 season that if Hester didn't catch more than the 26 passes he caught in 2011, the coaching staff would have "failed him." Asked why Hester came up short, Drake struggled to find an explanation.

"I couldn't tell you," Drake told "Waddle & Silvy" on Tuesday on ESPN Chicago 1000. "Again, when you have a guy with that kind of talent, and he does have talent -- contrary to what a lot of people say, he does have talent -- he feeds off success, and any guy like him has to be involved.

"And I've heard we're going to have 'The Devin Hester Package,' I've heard that for I don't know how many years. And I'm part of it, but I haven't seen it. I haven't seen it come into fruition on Sundays, but I think a guy with his ability, the more you get it to him, the more you see, the better he is. When you don't get it to him, then frustration sets in, and you'll see it."

Former Bears special teams coach Dave Toub said Hester needs to start having fun again, and the production will follow.

"He still has a lot of talent," Toub said Jan. 16 on "Waddle & Silvy." "You see it in practice. It's more mental with him. He has to get his mind right, and once that thing starts clicking, he's going to be fine."


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(espn.com)
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Devin Hester wants a “fresh start”

DevinHesterBears2
Bears return man Devin Hester has been frustrated this offseason, and said he might need a “fresh start” to make football fun again.

Hester told Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune he wanted to play a few more years, even if it is somewhere other than Chicago.

“I’m going to try to get two or three more years in,” the 30-year-old Hester said. “I think I have that much left in me.

“At the same time, I think I do need a fresh start.”

Hester has a year left on his contract, but seemed more frustrated with his lack of action on offense. He caught 57 passes in 2009, but just 23 last season.

“Not only this year, but the last couple of years it has been like that,” Hester said. “It was really starting to show, why I was frustrated.

“I’m not making any excuses. I know some of the plays I should have made in terms of catching the ball. But I just wasn’t feeling it. My mind wasn’t there the majority of the time.”

He called a trade “a possibility,” but said if he returns to the Bears, he’s willing to just return.

“To be honest with you, if I’m still here, I don’t want to play offense,” he said. “I don’t think my role [on offense] will fit. I can’t truly say that with the new offense, but from past experience, I don’t think it will fit. . . .

“If I’m here, I want to bring another Super Bowl title to this city. I love the fans and the support. But I don’t want to play this game like I have the last couple of years — not having fun.”

It’s clear that Hester’s issues go far beyond the firing of head coach Lovie Smith, and will be something the Bears need to decide if they want to work on fixing, or just move on from the aging return specialist.


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Drake: 'Frustrated' Hester needs to be more involved

DevinHesterBears2
Former Chicago Bears receivers coach Darryl Drake always took time to stick up for his players. As he prepares to leave town, Drake continues to stand behind Devin Hester as a receiver.

Hester ended the season with an emotional rant during which he indicated he might consider retirement. The most dangerous return man in league history was upset with his offensive role all season and then broken up about the team’s decision to fire head coach Lovie Smith.

"Devin and I talked a little bit because I always want him to make the decisions that are best for him," Drake, who is headed to the Arizona Cardinals to fill the same position, said in a phone interview Monday. "I do understand that he was talking emotionally. But I think Devin’s going to sit back and reassess where he’s at. I think he has a lot left in him.

"He has to decide if he wants to continue to play, whether it’s here in Chicago or somewhere else."

Hester, a three-time Pro Bowler who established his reputation with 12 kick return touchdowns and five punt return touchdowns, has experienced a steady decline as a receiver. He caught a career-high 57 passes for 757 yards and three touchdowns in 2009. His reception total dipped to 40 the next season, then to 26 in ’11 on down to 23 this past season while playing alongside Brandon Marshall (118 receptions).

"The thing about Devin is, the stars need to align right," Drake said. "What I mean by that is, things have to be in order for him to excel. That’s just how he’s made. If things are right, then he’ll excel. If not, then he may struggle here and there."

Drake doesn’t believe learning the receiver position while continuing to be the team’s top kick returner complicated matters for Hester.

"That wasn’t a lot for him to shoulder," Drake said. "Devin just needs to be involved. When you have a guy of his caliber, you’ve got to get him involved. Guys like him feed off success. When he wasn’t involved, then he was frustrated. It’s hard to play this game frustrated. That’s the bottom line."

It was obvious that Hester wasn’t always on the same page with quarterback Jay Cutler. Hester even felt he was getting overlooked despite being open, at times, this past season. And Cutler certainly felt he delivered some catchable balls that Hester dropped.

If the 30-year-old Hester remains in Chicago – he has another year left on his contract and is due a base salary of $1.86 million – he’ll obviously need to get on the same page with Cutler in 2013.

"They need to sit down and get to know each other better, which I don’t know if that will ever happen," Drake said. "I think it’s both of them just being able to understand each other.

"Jay is a tough, tough-minded guy. He looks at things a lot differently. Devin is more of a compassionate-type of guy. They’re total opposites. At times, that probably made things a little bit tougher. But could they co-exist? Sure, if they both work at it. But it takes both of them to do it."


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(chicagotribune.com)
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Toub: Devin Hester needs to have fun again

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Dave Toub, who left the Chicago Bears to become the Kansas City Chiefs special teams coach on Tuesday, said Devin Hester just needs to get his mind right and start having fun to return to the form that made him one of the most dangerous players in the NFL.

"He still has a lot of talent," Toub said on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "You see it in practice.

"It's more mental with him. He has to get his mind right, and once that thing starts clicking, he's going to be fine."

Hester went from being the league's most dangerous return man to being a mediocre receiver, who had 23 catches for 242 yards and 1 touchdown this season. His receptions have decreased since the Bears have tried to convert him from return man to receiver.

Those struggles on the field, along with the recent firing of Lovie Smith, apparently have conspired to take the fun out of football for Hester, who said after Smith's firing that he's contemplating retiring. He later tweeted that the retirement thoughts have nothing to do with Smith's ouster.

"His response at the end, that was an emotional day with Lovie getting fired and him saying he wants to retire," Toub said. "You have to give it some time and go back and talk to him. He'll change that attitude. He's still got a lot more to give and he just needs to have fun back on the field again. When Devin is having fun, that's when he's dangerous."

Why wasn't he having fun?

"Just certain things," Toub said. "The thing about him is getting off to a good start. If he has a big return, you better watch out for the rest of the day because it's going to be all day long.

"We just could never get that jump start. We were kind of snake bit. We had two years in the nine years when I was here with Devin, where we didn't get any returns at all, and it was kind of the same deal. We just couldn't get over the edge. We set the bar so high that if we're not getting touchdowns we're not any good."


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(espn.com)
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Bears Want Devin Hester to have fun again

DevinHesterBears2
Chicago Bears special teams coach Dave Toub said Wednesday, Jan. 16, that WR Devin Hester just needs to start having fun to return to the form that made him one of the most dangerous players in the NFL. "He still has a lot of talent," Toub said in a radio interview. "You see it in practice. It's more mental with him. He has to get his mind right, and once that thing starts clicking, he's going to be fine."


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(kffl.com)
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Cutler Show: Jay wants Hester to stay

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Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler made it clear he wants Devin Hester to return for the 2013 season, and he acknowledged it is "safe to say" the receiver might flourish in a new offense likely to be brought in once the team hires a new coach to replace Lovie Smith.

"He's one of the most dynamic players in the NFL with the football," Cutler said Wednesday during "The Jay Cutler Show" on ESPN 1000. "So you don't want to go against a guy like that. You don't want to see him on the other sideline."

Cutler's remarks came in response to questions about Hester's recent statements in which he expressed a desire to retire from the NFL.

Responding to the news about the club's decision to fire Smith last Monday, Hester said he no longer enjoys the game.

"I don't even know if I want to play again, man. That's been on my mind for two years now. It ain't (fun)," Hester said. "So I have my workers comp papers in my pocket. (I'll) see how I feel, go home, talk to my wife, my family; see where we go from there. I've got two beautiful kids, man. Two boys. A lot of stress has been on my mind lately."

Clearly shaken by the firing of Smith, Hester said "the media, the false fans, you got what y'all wanted. (The) majority of you all want him all out."

Hester admitted his lack of production resulted in stress off the field. After establishing himself as one of the greatest returners in NFL history, Hester tried to transition over to receiver, but the move never successfully panned out. Hester caught 57 catches in 2009, but his production dropped each subsequent season, with the receiver hauling in 23 balls in 2012.

"Not being able to showcase my talents the way I want them to be able to be showcased, it's stressful," Hester said.

Hester later took to Twitter to clarify remarks about retiring.

"Let me make myself clear the reason why I feel like retiring," Hester posted. "Has nothing to do with Lovie Smith getting fired. It's hard to play the game when you're not happy and you're having fun with what you do in life."

Cutler expressed empathy Wednesday for Hester's situation, adding he hasn't yet talked to the receiver.

"I think (Brandon Marshall) went to dinner with him and talked to him a little bit," Cutler said. "I'm not for sure about that. Emotional guys. Lovie brought him in. When these things happen, sometimes you're put in front of a camera and you say things that maybe you don't mean.

"Maybe he meant it. I have no idea. Whenever you go out there and you don't do the things you think you can do on the football field, it's frustrating. Frustration builds up and builds up, and it forces you to think about doing other things I guess."


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Devin Hester Sells Gurnee Home

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Chicago Bears wide receiver/return specialist Devin Hester has sold his home in Gurnee, Il. for $322,500.

The five-bedroom, 3,100-square-foot home was one of Hester’s three in the Chicago area, the Tribune reports.

After the season, when the Bears fired head coach Lovie Smith, Hester threatened to retire from the league.

“I don’t even know if I want to play again,” Hester said. “That’s been something on my mind for two years. It’s not (much fun for me anymore). I’ve got my workers comp papers in my pocket. We’ll see how I feel. I’m going to go home and talk to my wife and talk to my family and see where we go from there. I got two beautiful kids, man, two boys. A lot of stress has been on my mind lately.”

There’s no word yet if the sale had anything to do with his recent comments.


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(chicago.cbslocal.com)
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Devin Hester clarifies retirement comments on Twitter

DevinHesterBears2
Earlier this week the Chicago Bears Devin Hester made comments about how NFL football is no longer fun for him and how he thinks this could be the end of his career. He also said his family is a factor and he needs to take that into account regarding his decision about his future. These comments came on the same day Bears coach Lovie Smith was fired, and given how close Hester was to Lovie, there was speculation that the two incidents were related.

Also factor in that Hester, one of the NFL’s most dangerous return men in history did nothing on kick returns in 2012, and had a very non-descript year catching the ball, and it’s easy to see why he made such comments of frustration. But today he clarified.

“Let me make myself clear the reason why I feel like retiring has nothing to do with Lovie Smith Getting fired.” Hester tweeted 25 minutes ago

He followed that tweet up with

“It’s hard to play this game when you’re not happy or having fun At what you love to do in life.”

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, a Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Chicago Tribune.com, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports

A Fulbright scholar, published author and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; he’s also a member of the Football Writers Association of America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too.


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GM: I felt for Devin Hester

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Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery said Tuesday he doesn't expect Devin Hester to follow through with talk of retirement, although Emery understands Hester's emotions after the firing of coach Lovie Smith.

After Smith was fired Monday, the 30-year-old Hester said he didn't know if he wanted to play again and had his "workers comp" papers in his pocket.

"Devin didn't come by," Emery said during a news conference. "I saw the comments. I felt for Devin. Again, I take all that in context of these guys had played a long time ... Devin came in as a draft pick with Lovie. I certainly understand the emotion. There will be a time when his emotions clear.

"Devin has come into my office and we've talked before. My door is always open, and if he wants to do that, we can have the conversation. If he doesn't, I'm open to that, too. Obviously, Devin is under contract, so if he sent his retirement papers in, I would know. But I don't anticipate that. I think he's a great competitor. I think that was an emotional situation that evoked an emotional response, and I certainly understand that."

Hester said it wasn't just Monday's news that had him thinking of retiring.

"I don't even know if I want to play again," Hester said. "That's been something on my mind for two years.

"It's not (much fun for me anymore). I've got my workers comp papers in my pocket. We'll see how I feel. I'm going to go home and talk to my wife and talk to my family and see where we go from there. I got two beautiful kids, man, two boys. A lot of stress has been on my mind lately."

Hester said he's been stressed by what's transpired on the field. After establishing himself as one of the greatest returners in NFL history, Hester tried to make the transition to impact receiver, but that never happened. He had 57 catches in 2009, but that's gone down each subsequent season, and he had 23 this season.

"Not being able to showcase my talents the way I want them to be able to be showcased, it's stressful," Hester said.

He was asked whether a change of scenery would help.

"Who knows? If it's the right place ... if not, I feel like I've done enough in the league to where I established myself (as) one of the elite players to ever play the game," he said. "God blessed me with seven years. The average years of an NFL player is about three. I made some accomplishments on my own, some goals I reached, some other goals I felt I could have achieved."

Brian Urlacher has been one of Smith's most vocal supporters and said he was shocked at the news. But Urlacher cautioned that some players would say things they didn't necessarily mean.

"We're all mad right now," Urlacher said Monday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "We lost our head coach, they fired him, and we're all mad. We're going to say some things that we don't mean."


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Another look at Devin Hester's future

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In the hours after the Chicago Bears fired coach Lovie Smith, it was fair to expect anger and even empty threats from a group of players who had grown close to him over the years. Middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, for one, freely acknowledged that "we're going to say things that we don't mean."

So I didn't make much of kick returner/receiver Devin Hester's claim that he was considering retirement. Neither did Bears general manager Phil Emery, who said Tuesday that he doesn't anticipate Hester walking away. "That was an emotional situation that evoked an emotional response," said Emery, who added: "There will be a time when his emotions clear."

It's worth pointing out, however, that Hester has now said on multiple occasions that Smith's firing isn't the catalyst for his current mindset. He implied that his failure to emerge as a consistent receiver -- or perhaps the failure of the Bears to cultivate those skills -- has taken the fun out of playing for him.

Hester said Monday that retirement has "been something on my mind for two years" and added: "Not being able to showcase my talents the way I want them to be able to be showcased, it's stressful."

Tuesday, Hester tweeted: "Let me make myself clear the reason why I feel like retiring has nothing to do with Lovie Smith Getting fired. … It's hard to play this game when you're not happy or having fun At what you love to do in life."

Football is a business above all else, and we should note that Hester is entering the final year of a contract that calls for him to earn about $2.1 million in 2013. We could be cynical and suggest Hester could be setting himself up to be lured back via a contract extension by a new coach who wants to maintain a Hall of Fame presence as a returner, if nothing else.

I don't know if that's the case. There have certainly been instances of established 30-year-old players walking away from the game for health, passion or other reasons. And if Hester's feelings truly are unrelated to Smith's departure, then this issue runs deeper than reactive emotion. Maybe Devin Hester just doesn't like playing football anymore. He has earned more than $20 million in his NFL career. Most players want to squeeze every last dollar and year out of their careers, but Hester might not be wired that way.


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Devastated Devin Hester considering retirement



Record-setting Chicago Bears wide receiver and returner Devin Hester was devastated by the news Monday morning that Lovie Smith was fired as coach, and said he is contemplating retirement from the game.

Hester, who blamed media and fans for Smith’s removal after nine seasons, was visibly crushed by the news as he cleaned out his locker at Halas Hall following a brief team meeting in which Smith addressed his players.

DevinHesterBears2
“We already knew what the news was,” Hester said. “Just hearing it from him. The media, the false fans, you all got what you all wanted. Majority of you all wanted him out. As players, we wanted him in. I guess the false fans outruled us. I thought he was a great coach, probably one of the best coaches I have ever been around. He brought me in.”

Hester, 30, said he is going to return home and isn’t interested in tracking a coaching search general manager Phil Emery has already launched.

“I don’t even know if I want to play again, man,” Hester said. “You know, that’s been on my mind for two years now.

“It’s not (as much fun anymore). It ain’t. So, I have my workers’ comp papers in my pocket. See how I feel, go home and talk to my wife, my family. See where we go from there. I’ve got two beautiful kids, man, young. Two boys. A lot of stress has been on my mind lately.”

Asked to clarify the workers’ comp issue, Hester said, he is “not (injured) physically, but mentally. I have had injuries here or there. That is part of football. Who walks away from this game without being injured.”

The Bears missed the playoffs for the fifth time in six years after winning their season finale at Detroit 26-24 on Sunday to finish 10-6. But when the Minnesota Vikings toppled the Green Bay Packers 37-34 in the late afternoon game, the Bears were knocked out of the postseason, a journey that perhaps could have saved Smith’s job.

Hester struggled as a return man this season and had his role reduced on offense. He was pressing to break a big return and while that didn’t happen, the Bears still enjoyed among the best average starting field position in the NFL because of the threat of Hester on kickoff returns.

He averaged 25.9 yards on kickoff returns and 8.3 yards on punts while making 23 receptions for 242 yards and one touchdown.

“Not being able to showcase my talent the way I want it to be showcased, stressful,” Hester said. “I feel like I have done enough in the league where I established myself to be one of the elite players ever to play the game. God blessed me for seven years. The average years of an NFL player is about three. I made some accomplishments on my own, some goals I reached. Some more goals are out there I still felt I could achieve.”

Hester said he would consider playing elsewhere and joining Smith on another team, but that “at the same time, I am a Bear for life. This is where I was born and raised from the start of football.”


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(chicagotribune.com)
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VIDEO: Devin Hester Workout




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Devin Hester Returns To Practice

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Chicago Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and Devin Hester returned to practice Wednesday on a limited basis, a positive sign the offense could get a boost for Sunday’s game at Minnesota.

Jeffery, the rookie second-round draft pick from South Carolina, has missed the previous two games after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery. Prior to that, a broken right hand sidelined him for four games. But Jeffery was just at the point where it looked like he would be taking the starting job from Hester when he suffered the hand injury on a touchdown reception at Jacksonville Oct. 7.

Hester returned to practice for the first time since suffering a concussion in the victory over the Vikings on Nov. 25. It’s not known if Hester has received full clearance to play this Sunday at the Metrodome, but by practicing Wednesday in the Walter Payton Center, it appears he’s on course.

While the two wideouts were back in action, two more were missing. As expected, Earl Bennett was sidelined with a concussion. Marshall sat with an unknown ailment and it should be noted doctors and trainers did examine one of Marshall’s knees during the loss Sunday at Soldier Field to the Seattle Seahawks.


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(chicagotribune.com)
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Devin Hester: 'I'm getting better'

DevinHester
It was a good sign that Bears kick returner/receiver Devin Hester was out and about Tuesday as he continues to recover from his concussion.

In front of a jubilant crowd of students, Hester presented Calumet PSD 132 with a $10,000 NFL Play 60 grant for health and wellness programming.

"For any Chicago Bear player to come in here and present an award to these guys, it's a big honor," Hester said.

As far as his own health, Hester is taking things one day at a time. He suffered his concussion in the Bears' victory against the Minnesota Vikings on Nov. 25. He sat out the Bears' loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday and hasn't practiced since getting diagnosed with a concussion.

"I'm getting better as the days go," Hester said. "I can't really tell from this point on, but the progress is getting better and better.

"I'm playing it safe, and when the time comes when they clear me, I'll be ready."

Hester said he didn't know how many tests he has left to pass in order to play this week against the Vikings.

"Pretty much all I know is I'm getting better each and every day," Hester said.


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(suntimes.com)
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Devin Hester could return soon

DevinHesterBears2
Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith usually keeps a lid on injury news on Mondays -- witness last week when he held a press conference without really updating any injuries and then put guard Lance Louis on season-ending injured reserve less than an hour afterward.

So when he offered up nothing new Monday to update the condition of LB Brian Urlacher's hamstring injury, WR Earl Bennett's concussion, CB Tim Jennings' shoulder injury, or other injuries from earlier games, it wasn't surprising.

Smith is hopeful WR Alshon Jeffery returns from arthroscopic knee surgery this week. He was doubtful Sunday and didn't play, but was on the field running prior to the contest. Smith is also hopeful WR Devin Hester can return from a concussion, so he saw no need for the team to go outside the organization and bring in another wide receiver.

"No, we're going to go with the guys we have right now, going to get some guys back this week and we'll be fine," Smith said.

WR Brandon Marshall had mentioned the possibility of signing his friend, Michael Sims-Walker, who made seven TD catches for Jacksonville in 2009 and 2010, but Smith discounted this as the media putting words in Marshall's mouth.

"I think sometimes when you guys ask him about certain guys, you know?" Smith said. "I've got a lot of old buddies and stuff, too. "I think Brandon feels pretty good about the guys that we have here that he is playing with."

Actually, Marshall brought up the topic of new players without being asked, and also suggested moving up WR Joe Anderson from the practice squad.

Bennett's return this week might be more iffy than Hester's, since Hester has had more than a week away. Jay Cutler, DE Shea McClellin and Hester all have had concussions and sat out a game.


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(cbssports.com)
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Devin Hester Out of Bears Lineup Against the Seahawks

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Bears wide receiver and kick returner Devin Hester has been ruled out for Sunday's game against the Seahawks.   

Hester left Sunday's game against the Vikings with a concussion.  He has not been at Halas Hall all week.  The Bears typically hold players out one game after a concussion, as they did with Jay Cutler and defensive end Shea McClellin. 

Devin Hester has 873 combined yards this season, 203 yards receiving and 459 yard on kick returns, 207 yards returning punts. 

Hester already ownes the NFL's all time record for career kick return touchdowns (17) and career punt return touchdowns (12) and is one return touchdown away from tying Hall of Famer Deion Sanders for most career return touchdowns. 

Hester, though, hasn't posed much of a threat this year.  

His decision making led to his being benched once already this season on returns.  Last week he had one punt return for 6 yards, with no kickoff returns.  With opponents kicking short to avoid a Hester break out run, Eric Weems set up deep last week, with Hester as a short return man.  Weems also stepped in for Hester at wide receiver (1 catch 9 yards) and will do the same again this Sunday with Hester out. 

Weems could turn heads returning kicks.  He signed a three year deal with the Bears last March and was a Pro Bowl returner with the Falcons in 2010. 
"It was good to get him in there last week" Dave Toub said, "kind of knock the dust off a little bit, I expect him to be a lot better this week, to take more of a jump & hit the ball faster up the field." 

Weems is excited about the opportunity, sometimes too excited on gameday!  

"In practices he's a little bit quieter" Toub said of Weems an undrafted free agent out of Bethune-Cookman, "at gameday you got to almost calm him down, he's a fun guy to be around."


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(nbcchicago.com)
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Devin Hester leaves game with concussion

DevinHesterBears2
Bears receiver and return specialist Devin Hester left Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings with a concussion.

The injury occurred early in the game, although it was not clear exactly when. The Bears announced he would miss the remainder of the game with about five minutes left in the half.

Eric Weems replaced Hester at receiver and on returns.


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(boston.com)
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Devin spent? Age might become an issue for Bears’ Hester

DevinHesterBears2
On his 30th birthday, Devin Hester was one block and eight yards from the 20th kick-return touchdown of his career in the Bears’ ­51-20 rout of the Tennessee Titans on Nov. 4 in Nashville.

Two weeks later, he was literally running in circles against the San Francisco 49ers, with a net of ­minus-1 yard on three punt returns. It was another reminder of just how difficult it is to be as great as Hester has been — especially, in his line of work, after turning 30.

Hester is far from your average kick returner. He’s the best of all time — though on behalf of Bears fans of another generation, it can’t be ignored that the great Gale Sayers scored his eight kick-return touchdowns on just 118 attempts. His ratio of one touchdown for ­every 14.8 returns eclipses Hester’s still impressive 1:23.2.

Regardless of anyone’s greatness, it’s a young man’s gig. Sayers’ final kick-return touchdown came at 24. Hester’s three touchdowns last season, when he turned 29, is more remarkable than people realize.

The teamwork, the timing and the skill required to return kicks make every touchdown a celebrated event. But with each passing day, the challenge for Hester becomes a little more than having the moon and stars align to capture the necessary magic to break out of a slump.

At 30, Hester is the third-oldest full-time kick returner (punts and kickoffs) in the NFL behind the Detroit Lions’ Stefan Logan (31) and the Seattle Seahawks’ Leon Washington (30). The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Roscoe Parrish (30) and the Denver Broncos’ Jim Leonhard (30) are the only other 30-somethings returning kicks.


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Devin Hester leads team in receiving in Week 11

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Chicago Bears WR Devin Hester had three receptions for 23 yards in Week 11 against the San Francisco 49ers Monday, Nov. 19. TE Kellen Davis checked in with two grabs for 20 yards, and WR Earl Bennett made the stat sheet with one catch for six yards.



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When Will Devin Hester Return (to Thrills)

DevinHesterBears2
One year ago today, Devin Hester returned a punt 82 yards for a touchdown against the Detroit Lions.

That's the last time the vaunted return man broke one for a touchdown. 

In 2012, his punt return average is down, his moves are less thrilling and he's just not the electrifying return man the Bears need.

So what's his problem? Well, it's not only his fault. Corey Graham, the ace special teams player for all of Hester's previous big runs, is now playing in Baltimore. Hester doesn't have the same kind of blocking and protection when he's returning the ball.

But it's not just Graham's departure that's affecting Hester. It's could be the pressure. 

Hester is trying so hard to get to the end zone on every return that he's dancing all over the field. When looking for the perfect hole to hit, he runs end zone to end zone. He runs backward. He jukes and jives ... and then gets tackled.

He's suffering as a receiver, too. On Sunday night, he was targeted four times but made just two catches for four yards.

Hey Devin, take a breath.

Get out of your head for a second and just play football. It's OK if you don't get to the end zone, but not getting any yardage at all doesn't help.


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(nbcchicago.com)
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Almost the return of magnificent six for Bears’ Hester

DevinHesterBears2
Oh, so close.

Seemingly lost in all the commotion Sunday was Hester’s best punt return of the season.

Hester returned a line-drive punt from Brett Kern 44 yards to the Titans’ 8, setting up Matt Forte’s touchdown run. Kern was able to slow Hester as Jamie Harper made the tackle and prevented him from ending his TD-return drought.

Nonetheless, it was Hester’s longest punt return in 2012. He entered the game averaging 7.3 yards. Hester remains one touchdown shy of tying Deion Sanders for the most combined return TDs.

“[It was] very important for Devin to get off and the rest of the group,” coach Lovie Smith said Monday. “We’ve been close a couple of times. We feel like we’ve had a couple of opportunities where we could’ve broken a big one, but it’s just a matter of time with Devin Hester before we would be able to do it.”

On Hester’s 44-yard return, the Bears used two blockers on each of the Titans’ gunners. Hester last returned a punt for a touchdown Nov. 13, 2011, against the Lions.

Smith, though, said Hester’s history definitely played a role in a blocked punt.

“No doubt it does,” Smith said. “Just having Devin back there does so much, period. You look last week, the field position we were able to get [when the Panthers used squib kicks]. Guys worrying about getting down there and covering as opposed to protecting, all of that comes into play when you have the greatest returner of all time back there.”


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(suntimes.com)
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Devin Hester, Bears special teams make impact

DevinHesterBears2
NASHVILLE -- It turns out the Bears' first quarter punt block call was originally designed for either Craig Steltz or Corey Wootton to get to Tennessee punter Brett Kern, not Sherrick McMannis, who surprised everyone with his strong rush from the outside that led to the block that Wootton returned five yards for a score.

"We wanted to rush them and we knew we could exploit them in some way," Wootton said. "Sherrick did a great job coming off the edge and he wasn't even the guy that was supposed to get the block that we planned in practice. He ended up having a great rush and he got his hands on it and I just picked it up and ran.

"It was either Steltz or myself that was supposed to come in and Sherrick just came in flying he's an explosive guy, an explosive athlete. He made a great play on it. A little Northwestern connection as some may say."

For Wootton, the punt return score marked the first touchdown since he brought back an interception for a touchdown in his junior year at Don Bosco Preparatory High School in Rutherford, N.J.

"I saw the ball in the air and I tried to play basketball and go up and get it," Wootton said. "I held on to the ball and just started rumbling into the end zone. It was a great feeling to get a touchdown and set the tone on special teams."

McMannis has excelled on special teams for the Bears ever since the club acquired the cornerback from Houston in a trade at the start of the regular season.

"When you come out in the game you never know what is going to happen so you just have to go hard and play fast," McMannis said. "The play wasn't designed for me necessarily, but you got to go out and make it happen."

Another element working in the Bears' favor on the punt block was the mere presence of Devin Hester on the field as the return man. Hester believes the fact Tennessee was trying to kick away from him helped give the Bears rush men an idea where Kern would be angling the football when he kicked it.

"When they overload to one side, they kick to that side," Hester said. "So as a returner we start cheating to that side. All of a sudden I’m back there cheating, and they kick it to other side. You got two or three guys blocking and you're overloading one side, you never go back to the opposite side where you’re shorter(-handed).

"No way in our mind did we think they were going back and kick the opposite way. Because when you overload one side, you limit your blocking on the opposite side. We anticipated when they overloaded one side they were going to kick to that side, because you can’t go back because you don’t have nobody to block."

Why exactly do teams do that?

"Trying to kick it away from me," Hester smiled.

Later in the game, Hester almost broke his first return when he fielded a punt and brought it back 44 yards to the Bears' eight-yard line. On the next play Matt Forte rushed up the middle for an eight-yard touchdown that increased the Bears' lead to 14-2.

"It was just a glimpse of us warming up," Hester said of the Bears special teams. "That’s very important to build confidence for myself and the players out there blocking for me. We're still a dangerous return team. We got a lot of opportunities this week and we made those guys pay."


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(espn.com)
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Could the Chicago Bears trade Devin Hester?

DevinHesterBears2
With Hurricane Sandy crippling much of the East coast, the NFL has moved the trade deadline back to this Thursday at 3pm Central time. The deadline was moved back to week 8 in the off season, from week 6, in an attempt to drum up a trading frenzy!

Which won't happen...

But what if the Bears were looking to deal? What if they had Devin Hester on the trade block? Would there be much interest?

There's no question his mere presence is enough to alter game plans. The sky punt, directional punting, the shank punt (thank you Carolina), squib kicks, and pooch kicks, are common to see from Bears opponents. Teams still fear the Ridiculous One. While the Bears enjoy the field position they are handed - even if they don't always take advantage - could they benefit from having someone else return kicks and punts? With the great schemes of special teams coordinator Dave Toub, wouldn't the Bears be better off with, say... former Pro Bowl returner Eric Weems back there? At least he'd get a chance to run with the ball.

Are the Bears better off watching teams kick and punt unreturnable balls, or would they be better off utilizing the expertise of Toub in designing returns for a returner that will get some opportunities?

The Bears would never take Hester off returns, but if he were removed from the team via a trade, would Toub's units still shine?

Here's how Rotoworld lists Devin's contract;

7/27/2008: Signed a four-year, $40.975 million contract extension through 2013. The deal contains $15 million guaranteed, including a $5 million signing bonus and $5 million roster bonuses in both the second and third years. Another $18.939 million is available through performance-based escalators. $250,000 annual workout bonuses are also available throughout the contract's life. 2012: $1.646 million, 2013: $1,857,523 (+ $10 million "deescalating" roster bonus), 2014: Free Agent

Is that an untradeable deal? I guess it depends how bad a team would covet his unique skills. Spotrac sees the Hester contract a bit differently. They have a cap hit for about $7.6 million this year, and $12.8 million for next year. Both have his base salary the same for the next two years, but they differ on the bonus money.

Many of bonuses were tied to his success as a wide out, so it's probable he'll come up short on the total money owed anyway. However you cut it, trading him would see the Bears taking a hit for a portion of the bonus money. How much exactly I'll leave to a capologist.

But back to the matter at hand... What could the Bears get in trade for Devin Hester?

Should they look to add a few picks to their already depleted 2013 total?

Should they look for offensive line or tight end help?


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(sbnation.com)
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Forte, Hester the center of latest Bears' mystery

DevinHesterBears2
CHICAGO | There are two stories taking shape this Bears season that won't cause coach Lovie Smith to lose any sleep, though he may keep one eye open.

What's the deal with running back Matt Forte and return "specialist" Devin Hester? One is on fire but repeatedly overlooked it seems, while the other is slumping worse than those Detroit Tigers.

Hester.
All this talk about being the game's greatest return man ever and a can't-miss Hall of Famer is less frequent now because Devin Hester has gone from "Beast" to "Bambi."

Sunday, he was invisible with two punt returns for 11 yards. You could do better carrying a bowling ball.

Hester didn't return a kickoff, of which the Bears had seven for a 6.3 average.

A few games back, Hester told us he needed to be more aggressive on returns; had to quit running east-west and more north-south.
He hasn't done either.

Hester insists wide receiver duties haven't interfered with his kick return duties. He's adamant about that.

In the 13-7 win over Detroit on Monday Night Football, Hester signaled a fair catch on a punt he fielded at the Lions 47-yard line.

Special teams coach Dave Toub was spitting razor blades, he was so angry, saying Hester had a sure sideline touchdown if he had just taken off.

Hester hasn't had a return touchdown since Nov. 13 of last season when he took a punt 82 yards against Detroit.

He is ranked in the high teens among punt and kickoff return leaders, quite a drop for the man whose 17 career kick-return touchdowns are an NFL record.
"I know Devin, lately, hasn't had a lot of big returns for touchdowns but it's just a matter of time," Lovie Smith said.

Hopefully, soon. Ever try sleeping with one eye open?

(nwitimes.com)
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Devin Hester agrees he has made return mistakes

DevinHesterBears2
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Devin Hester does not refute the notion that he's been too passive in the return game.

One day after Chicago Bears special teams coordinator Dave Toub said Hester "probably made some decisions he would probably take back" in the club's Oct. 22 win over the Detroit Lions, the three-time Pro Bowler vowed to get more aggressive when returning kicks moving forward.

"He's right," Hester said of Toub's comments. "I have to be more aggressive to the ball. I'm going to man up and confess that I haven't been as aggressive as I normally should.

"The good thing is I know what mistakes I've made, and the mistakes I've made I know how to fix them. Being the type of player that I am I know my mistakes and I know what I got to do to fix them. Point blank."

Hester appeared to have a shot at a lengthy punt return in fourth quarter of Monday night's win over the Lions when a short 35-yard punt by Nick Harris landed at the Lions' 47-yard line. But Hester called for a fair catch on the play, even though it looked as if he had room to run if he would have fielded the punt. Earlier in the game Hester let a punt drop instead of calling for a fair catch that resulted in a 58-yard kick by Harris that put the ball on the Bears' 19.

"He probably made some decisions in that game he would probably take back," Toub said. "He might have returned that last one possibly, but that's just the way it is. Most of the time he's going to make the correct decision. We just want him to get that aggressiveness back and we think we'll get it sooner or later.

"That's probably the hardest position to play -- that punt returner. You have to make a lot of decisions. You have to check the coverage. Is it high hang time or is it a line drive? You have to make those decisions and think fast on your feet. Sometimes you make the right decisions, sometimes you don't. It depends where you are on the field. If you're backed up and the ball is real deep and it's high hang-time you let it go. If it's a short kick you want to take it and try to steal one especially if there's no coverage. So we're going to continue to work and eventually it will come."

Hester holds the all-time NFL record for combined career kick return touchdowns with 17, but is averaging only 7.6 yards per punt return on 12 attempts with a long return of 23 yards over the first six games this season. Those numbers pale in comparison to Hester's career punt return average of 12.9 yards. He averaged 16.2 yards per punt return last season and brought back two kicks for touchdowns.

"When you get those opportunities you got to be aggressive and make those plays and try to steal one," Hester said. "That's something that I got to start doing. The returns that I'm capable of returning, I just got to go ahead and be aggressive and make them."

Hester does not believe his increased role on offense has played a part in his drop off on special teams. Hester played 59 snaps on offense in the win over the Lions due to the fact rookie Alshon Jeffery is out with a fractured hand.

"That really didn't hinder my return game," Hester said. "At the end of the day, I need to be more aggressive. I know that, and I know how to fix it. We're looking forward to this week."


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(espn.com)
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Is Hester the answer to fill Jeffery void?

DevinHesterBears2
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- One question facing the Chicago Bears coming off their bye week was how exactly the offense planned to replace rookie wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, who is on the shelf for the foreseeable future due to fractured right hand. The Bears provided the answer, at least for one week, when they dramatically increased Devin Hester's playing time at wideout in their Week 7 victory over the Detroit Lions.

Hester played 59 of the Bears' 72 snaps on offense (82 percent), his highest play-time percentage of the season. However, the increased reps did not necessarily translate into huge numbers for Hester, who finished with three catches for 38 yards on just six targets.

"He did well," Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice said. "We just have to continue to work on our timing. If he runs a route and the read takes it to it, we got to connect. We got to hit those things. He did well."

Interestingly, Hester has done his best work this season when his playing time has been limited. He arguably had best game of the year on offense in Week 4 versus the Dallas Cowboys (3-38-1) when he lined up at wideout for just eight of the teams 55 offensive snaps (15 percent). Hester also made an impact play the next week in Jacksonville when he hauled in a 39-yard pass even though he was on the field for 25 of the offense's 75 snaps (33 percent).

Besides Hester, the Bears also turned to Earl Bennett to fill the void left by Jeffery, although Bennett played less than Hester with 38 snaps (53 percent) versus the Lions. Bennett had a three-game stretch last year in November where he made a true impact in the passing game (5 catches for 95 yards and 1 touchdown at Philadelphia; 6-81 vs. Detroit; and 3-75 vs. San Diego) but has been relatively quiet since then. One reason for the decline in production can be traced back to a hand injury Bennett suffered before Week 2 but tried to play through until he had to shut it down for two weeks to allow the hand to heal properly.

Tice thinks the time off has prevented Bennett from really getting into the flow of the offense this season. Bennett has nine catches for 109 yards on the season, while Hester is slightly better with 10 receptions for 152 yards.

"Earl has been hurt so there hasn't been a challenge in finding a niche," Tice said. "He's just back last week. So Earl is going to continue to hopefully get into a rhythm and be more crisp and then we can start hooking up. But Earl has been out so it hasn't been a challenge, not yet."


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(espn.com)
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Devin Hester Looking for That Monday Night Magic

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Devin Hester hasn't returned a punt or kickoff for a touchdown yet this year, but eight of 18 have come on Monday nights. Better yet, Hester's last return for a touchdown came against the Detroit Lions, the Bears' opponent this week.

And with Alshon Jeffery out of Monday night's game, Hester could see a few more footballs his way.

"With Earl [Bennett] back, Dane [Sanzenbacher], it'll be a nice rotation," Hester said. "I might get a couple more snaps."

Hester has just one receiving touchdown this year and no touchdowns on special teams. While the Lions have said they want to limit Hester, Detroit has made that plan before and already given up four kick and punt returns for touchdowns this year.

It doesn't mean Hester isn't banking on the Lions again.

"This is a team we see some opportunities, at the same time we got to be patient," Hester acknowledged, noting that watching film doesn't help because the Lions could play him differently.

Bears head coach Lovie Smith said he's looking for improvement in special teams too.  

"He does know how to play under the lights," Smith said of Hester. "I'll just say we need him to be the greatest returner in the history of our game."

Hester is one return touchdown away from tying Deion Sanders' NFL record  oif 19. Eight of Hester's returns for scores have come on Monday nights.

Does he still believe in his Monday Night magic?  

Hester Smiled.  "I do."


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(nbcchicago.com)
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Devin Hester held out of practice with quad injury

DevinHesterBears2
Chicago Bears receiver/return specialist Devin Hester did not practice Thursday because of a quad injury, coach Lovie Smith said. Smith indicated the injury does not appear to be serious.




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(chicagotribune.com)
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Devin Hester has golden opportunity to end slump against Lions in prime time

DevinHesterBears2
No one can blame Bears WR Devin Hester for hoping Monday night could represent the end of a touchdown-return slump.

For one, he's facing the Detroit Lions, and they have allowed two punt-return TDs and two kick-return TDs. The Lions rank last stopping punts, and 30th stopping kicks.

"This is a team that we see some opportunties there," Hester said Wednesday at Halas Hall. "At the same time, we've got to be patient. Other than that you just make sure that we do our assignments and everything will work out for the best."

Detroit's struggles don't necessarily translate to easy returns, Hester said.

"We expect they'll stir it up a little bit, so we've got to make sure we do our part and regardless of what kind of funky scheme they come up with, we've got to make sure we're prepared for it," he said.

Hester's strong point in his career has been punt returns. Of his 19 career returns for touchdowns, including postseason, only six came on kickoff returns. He had a 97-yard kick return TD in 2007 against Detroit, and his last TD return was an 82-yard punt return against the Lions in the Bears' 37-13 victory Nov. 13, 2011, at Soldier Field.

The Bears are anything but happy about their own return game, especially punt returns. Hester is averaging only 7.8 yards per punt return but averaged 12.9 yards before this season. The Bears are 20th as a team in punt-return average.

"One of the areas we've identified we do need to make improvements on is our return game," coach Lovie Smith said. "Of course, Devin is a big part of that."
Hester has eight return TDs in prime-time games and said he still considers himself to have "prime-time magic."

"He does know how to play under the lights," Smith added. "Big game. I'll just say we need him to be, you know, the greatest returner in the history of our game. And I am sure he will be."


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(cbssports.com)
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When it comes to return man Devin Hester, punting out of bounds easier said than done

DevinHesterBears2
ALLEN PARK -- Just saying Devin Hester's name causes Detroit Lions punter Nick Harris to shake his head. 

Hester, the long-time Chicago Bears return man, is the stuff of nightmares for NFL kickers and punter.

"He's fearless, he's willing to take risks with the ball, and he knows exactly what to do to get the ball up the field," Harris said. "He's the best ever."

It's tough to argue that assessment. Hester is the NFL's all-time leader in touchdown returns, bringing back 12 punts and five kickoffs for scores in his first six seasons. He's done it twice against the Lions, once with a kickoff in 2007 and on a punt last season.

Kassim Osgood, a gunner on punt coverage, will be one of the first men down the field trying to drop Hester before he can find a crease. Osgood knows Hester doesn't need long to identify an opening.

"He's daring," Osgood said. "He'll take a chance on a gap that most people think would close, and it will stay open long enough for him to get through there."
A prevailing thought to negate Hester's abilities is to simply punt out of bounds every time. Logically, if he doesn't touch the ball, he can't make an impact. Unfortunately, effectively executing that strategy is easier said than done.

"Everybody in golf tries to hit the fairway," coach Jim Schwartz said. "Sometimes they hit it in the rough, sometimes they hit in the woods. I'm talking about guys on the PGA tour, guys in major tournaments and things like that. People watching say, 'Jeez, why can't he hit in the fairway?' There's definitely that element to it."

Harris said on a perfect day, kicking it out of bounds with good distance is easier, but he couldn't guarantee boots longer than 25 yards when factoring in the typically unpredictable swirling winds in Solider Field. Considering his career net average is 35.7 yards, that's a potential 10-yard swing in field position with each punt.

If the opportunity to put the ball out of bounds presents itself, Lions players don't view it as conceding or a sign of weakness.

"No, not at all," Osgood said. "It's all a matter of strategy. Most people want to limit his touches."

Harris agrees.

"He has a higher percentage chance than anyone else to take it back for a touchdown. If you can eliminate a shot on goal, or an opportunity to return the football, why not?"


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(mlive.com)
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Devin Hester primed to return to form

DevinHesterBears2
Devin Hester says he’s just ‘‘one guy away.’’

Dave Toub says, ‘‘At the end of the year, we’re going to be right where we need to be.’’

Either way, the Bears’ vaunted special-teams units know they have some catching up to do. Not only has the Jay Cutler-to-Brandon Marshall connection raised the Bears’ offense to a new realm, but linebacker Lance Briggs, cornerback Charles Tillman and safety Major Wright have combined for an astonishing five interception returns for touchdowns to spark the Bears’ 4-1 start.

‘‘It’s been kind of hard to join the fun with the way those guys are going,’’ Hester said. ‘‘We’re playing catch-up now. We’ve got to make sure we lead the team in [touchdown] returns.’’

With Hester leading the way, the Bears’ kick-return teams under coordinator Toub arguably have been the most high-profile special-teams units in the NFL in recent years. It’s hard to find many moments or streaks of significant success in the Lovie Smith era that haven’t involved a Hester return.

But in the Bears’ best stretch since the 2006 Super Bowl season — they not only lead the NFL in scoring defense (14.2 points per game), they’re second in points per game (29.8) — Hester and the kick-return units have been virtually shut out.

Hester, who at 29 has an NFL-record 12 punt-return touchdowns and is sixth all-time in punt-return average (12.6 yards), is averaging 7.8 yards on 11 punt returns this season with a long return of 23 yards. He had seven longer than that in 2011, including touchdowns of 82 and 69 yards.

On 10 kickoff returns, Hester is averaging 26.9 yards with a long return of 38 yards. The new kickoff rules have had an obvious impact, but the Bears’ best field position after a Hester kickoff return is their 37-yard line. They’ve started beyond the 30 only twice.

‘‘We’ve been closer every week,’’ Hester said. ‘‘When we watch film, we see that I’m always one guy away from breaking one. We just have to stay patient and keep pushing and don’t lose faith in what we’re doing. It’s going to come, and when it does, we’ll all be celebrating.’’

Toub said, as is usually the case, little things are preventing the Bears from a big kick return.

“Right now, the defense is getting all the returns; we aren’t,’’ Toub said. ‘‘It’s just the way the ball bounces sometimes — guys coming off a block, holding call, a block in the back, different things. We just haven’t taken care of the opportunities we’ve had.’’

The Bears have had at least one kick return for a touchdown in the last nine seasons, pre-dating the Hester era. It’s still only five games into the season, which for most teams isn’t even close to a dry spell. For the Bears, it is.

‘‘It’s happened before,’’ Toub said. ‘‘We went two years without Devin getting a touchdown. Other guys got touchdowns instead. We’re not hitting the panic button by any means. But the guys know that when we get the ball in our hand, we need to make ’em pay.’’

The timing could be right for a breakthrough Monday against the Detroit Lions, who have allowed four kick-return touchdowns this season. The Lions rank 30th in the NFL in kickoff-return coverage (30.3 yards) and last in punt-return coverage (19.6). Hester’s last kick-return touchdown was against the Lions, an 82-yard punt return in a 37-13 Bears victory last season at Soldier Field.

The Bears had significant turnover in their special-teams units. But Toub has replaced players before in similar situations and said there has not been a drop off in personnel. Though the Bears have struggled in kick returns, the coverage units have been outstanding as usual.

‘‘I like our group,’’ Toub said. ‘‘We’ve got a real good group of guys. We’re going to keep plugging away. At the end of the year, we’re going to be right where we need to be.’’

While they are not panicking, the return teams know they have a reputation to uphold, and that creates a little added pressure, especially with the defense scoring two touchdowns a game.

‘‘There’s always a competition in each individual room,’’ Hester said. ‘‘But we’re all a team. The points go to everybody. At the end of the day, I’m happy for those guys, for the returns they have this year. We have to make sure we pick up our part.’’


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(suntimes.com)
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Devin Hester goes for 49 yards on 2 receptions

DevinHesterBears2
Devin Hester caught two balls for 49 yards in the Bears' Week 5 win over the Jaguars.

Hester saw a slight uptick in snaps after Alshon Jeffery suffered a game-ending hand injury, but it doesn't matter. Hester is a package player at best and a gimmick at worst, and you don't want him on your fantasy football team.


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(rotoworld.com)
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Bears aim to keep Hester involved on offense

DevinHesterBears2
After not catching any passes in the previous two games, Devin Hester helped spark the Bears offense Monday night in Dallas with a diving 34-yard touchdown reception from Jay Cutler.

"It helps whenever Devin is involved, period, with anything," coach Lovie Smith said Wednesday. "We thought he had a couple opportunities in our return game to get him going more, but he has a role [on offense]. He's one of the most exciting players in the NFL with his hands on the ball. That catch he made, it's what he's capable of doing. We'll continue to find ways to get him the ball."

Hester has been sharing time at the split end position with Alshon Jeffery, a 6-3, 216-pound second-round draft pick who leads all NFL rookies in receiving yards with 164.

"I really feel like we have an explosive player there [in Hester], and when we're going to get certain coverages we need to take advantage of that with him," said offensive coordinator Mike Tice.

"We have two very good receivers playing the same position right now and we're trying to make sure that each guy gets a bit in it. There are certain things that a big-body guy is going to do better than a double-moves type guy, and we want to make sure that we get each guy a taste and each guy a chance.

"Certainly for me as a coordinator, as a play-caller, my vision I have with Devin is going to be explosive plays, chunk plays. If I want to go out there and throw a six-yard hitch, then put the [6-3] guy in there. It just makes more sense to me."


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(chicagobears.com)
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Devin Hester capitalizes after voicing his concern

DevinHesterWallpaper
ARLINGTON, Texas. – Devin Hester’s comments last week about wanting an increased role in the offense did not fall on deaf ears.

Three days after telling ESPNChicago.com he wanted the ball more in the wake of catching just two passes for 27 yards in the first three games of the season -- all the receptions happened in Week 1, Hester was told by Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice the team wanted to use him more frequently on offense Monday night.

The end result was a three-catch performance on four targets, including an important early third quarter 34-yard touchdown reception that quieted the Cowboys Stadium crowd.

“Mike Tice came to me and said I was going to be one of the stars of the game and pretty much let me know he was going to give me an opportunity to make plays," Hester said. "How I handle it is on me. Sometimes you just have to voice your opinion.

"I know that in certain situations you go over plays during the week that are designed for you, but sometimes in a game situation you can’t call those plays. I understand that situation. But at the same time I just felt it I got a few more opportunities to make plays I could make them. That’s the most important thing about making plays is getting the opportunity to make them. Once you get the opportunity you got to take advantage of it."

Hester said he appreciated Tice being sympathetic to his concerns, even though the wideout did fail to capitalize on a few chances, including a potential touchdown grab in the end zone, in each of the previous two games.

“We joked about it all week but at the same time we both understand each other," Hester said. "That’s the great thing about coach Tice, he’s a coach that’s willing to drop his ego. Just because he’s the offensive coordinator he’s still willing to drop his ego and communicate more with the players. When you have a coach like that, players are willing to do whatever it takes to keep you successful. The road he’s going down by communicating with players and asking them what do you feel more comfortable with, he’s going to get a lot of guys on his side to fight for him when things aren’t going right."


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(espn.com)
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Devin Hester frustrated with role

DevinHesterBears2
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- With two catches in three games, receiver Devin Hester said Friday he is frustrated with his role in the Chicago Bears' offense.

"It's hard being one of the top electrifying players in the league and you're not able to get your hands on the ball as much as you want," Hester told ESPNChicago.com before Friday's practice.

In addition to his two catches for 27 yards, Hester has two rushes for 4 yards and has yet to score a touchdown. Through three games last season, Hester had seven catches for 139 yards.

Hester almost had his first touchdown Sunday, but he couldn't come up with a pass from quarterback Jay Cutler in the end zone during the fourth quarter of the Bears' 23-6 victory over the Rams.

"We try to get him the ball. It doesn't always work out, like that one in the end zone (against the Rams on Sunday) that was designed for him," offensive coordinator Mike Tice said Thursday. "Basically it was a one-man route. We're trying to find ways to get him the ball. Sometimes the coverage dictates we're going to go to him, sometimes it doesn't."

Cutler acknowledged Thursday that he could have thrown the ball a little lower. On Friday, Hester took the blame.

"I was very excited that I knew the ball had about 75 percent chance of coming to me," Hester said. "I ran the route fine, I got open, I just have to find a way to make that."

Hester isn't sure why he's not seeing the ball more. In fact, he was on the field for just 11-of-69 offensive snaps against the Rams.

Asked if making plays -- like the one he missed against the Rams -- will earn him more touches, Hester said: "They know I want the ball. I just have to keep working at it, keep my head up, and get better every day. And don't let it distract me."

Of course, Hester made his name in the NFL as a dynamic return man, and he came close to breaking a touchdown return in the first two games. His next return for a TD will tie him with Deion Sanders for the most combined return touchdowns in NFL history.

Hester's 27.3-yard career average on kick returns is ninth in the NFL, as is his 11.1-yard average on punt returns.

Receivers coach Daryl Drake said the Bears have a plan for Hester, the receiver, every week.

"I mean, it's just a matter of we don't know what's going to happen during the course of a game," Drake said recently. "We go in with a plan -- sometimes those plans are determined by what happens to us defensively -- but we have a plan for him every week. And then you have to adjust depending on what's happening in the game."

The Bears have struggled to find a way to use Hester consistently in the offense since they committed to him as a receiver in 2008. He had career-highs of 57 receptions for 757 yards in 2009, but his catches have dropped to 40 and 26 the past two seasons.

He hopes the "Hester package" of plays that was talked about in the offseason and during training camp will be used soon.

"Hopefully it'll come one day, but for right now I'm in the same boat as you guys," Hester said. "I'm trying to figure out when it's going to come. It's a disappointing feeling. I know what I'm capable of."


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(espn.com)
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Coach: Good Devin Hester wants ball

DevinHesterWallpaper
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears receivers coach Darryl Drake said following Saturday's practice that he had no problem with wide receiver Devin Hester saying he wants the ball on offense.

Hester was on the field for 11 of the team's 69 offensive snaps in last weekend's 23-6 victory over the St. Louis Rams. On the season he has two catches for 27 yards and two rushing attempts for 4 yards.

"As a receiver, you better want it (the ball)," Drake said. "If you don't want the ball I don't want you. If you don't want the football what good are you? If you don't want the football what kind of competitor are you? So every receiver that I've ever known in all the years that I've been a part of football have wanted the football.

"When I was playing as a receiver I wanted the football. Those that don't, they don't need to be playing receiver."

Hester expressed disappointment in his limited role through three weeks prior to Friday's practice.

"It's hard being one of the top electrifying players in the league and you're not able to get your hands on the ball as much as you want," Hester told ESPNChicago.com's Jesse Rogers.

However, there have been opportunities on which, for whatever reason, Hester has failed to capitalize. Hester dropped a pass in Week 2 versus the Green Bay Packers, then nearly scored his first touchdown of the season last week in the fourth quarter when he ran a nice route to get open on the right side of the end zone. But Hester failed to come down with the football as the pass sailed through his outstretched hands.

Quarterback Jay Cutler later acknowledged the throw to Hester was a little high, but Drake felt the receiver still needed to make the play.

"I thought it was tough, but one he has to make," Drake said. "But it was a tough catch. It was high, it was up. But every ball is not going to be perfect. Every one is not going to be perfect. Here is our philosophy: Make the ones that you're supposed to make and make the ones that you are not supposed to make. The average ones, catch all those, but those that are not, catch those too because that's what separates you. That's what he was told, and that's what they are all told."

The Bears have struggled to find a way to use Hester consistently in the offense since they committed to him as a receiver in 2008. He had career-highs of 57 receptions for 757 yards in 2009, but his catches have dropped to 40 and 26 the past two seasons.

Still, Drake remains committed to getting Hester involved in the offense after the organization spent the offseason touting the existence of a "Devin Hester package" of plays that was designed to get the ball into the hands of the Pro Bowl return man.

"We're not going to give up on him," Drake said. "We're going to keep sawing wood and keep trying to get better. Have those opportunities been perfect? No. But when opportunities present themselves, we have to make those plays. The same with all of them. When the ball comes to Brandon Marshall, he has to make that play. When the ball comes to Alshon Jeffery, he has to make that. When the ball comes to Earl Bennett, he has to make that play. So it's no different with Devin. It's no different with any of them. When the ball comes to Kellen Davis, he has to make that play.

"When guys don't make it, we have to find out a reason why they didn't make it and make sure when they get that opportunity again they make it."


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(espn.com)
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Cowboys need ‘all hands on deck’ to stop Bears’ Devin Hester

DevinHesterBears2
IRVING – With Bears’ ace returner Devin Hester coming to town, one of the burning questions facing the Cowboys this week is whether they will use Danny McCray on special teams if he is called on to start at strong safety.

McCray’s special teams’ involvement was limited in the second half of Sunday’s 16-10 win over Tampa Bay after fellow safety Barry Church suffered a season-ending injury. McCray and Church had been sharing snaps at strong safety, while cornerback Brandon Carr got most of the snaps at free safety with Gerald Sensabaugh out with a calf injury.

Sensabaugh’s status for the Monday night game against Chicago is uncertain. The Cowboys reportedly are eying five free agent safeties, a sign that Sensabaugh could miss another game.

“We certainly want him on special teams,” coach Jason Garrett said of McCray, who led the team in special teams tackles last season. “He’s probably our best special teams player and has been for the last couple years. Devin Hester is a big-time returner. Everybody knows that. He might go down as one of the greats ever in this league. So, it’ll be a real challenge for us. We’ll need all hands on deck. I don’t know how much that affects Danny to play on defense. We need him on defense, too. They’ve got some weapons on their offensive side of the ball. We’ll address that as the week goes on. We’ve got to make sure we control Hester the best we can.”


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(mysanantonio.com)
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Devin Hester struggling to make offensive impact

DevinHesterBears2
Devin Hester has just seven receptions for 88 yards and a touchdown in his last 11 games.

It begs the question, "Why is he still starting?" His 29-yard catch in the season opener was his only offensive play over 20 yards in that 11-game stretch. The Bears have refused to accept Hester's offensive limitations for several years now, giving the team a competitive disadvantage. It's only a matter of time before Alshon Jeffery's role increases.


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(rotoworld.com)
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Devin Hester Has Eyes on Deion's Record

DevinHesterBears2
LAKE FOREST – Devin Hester paused to ponder the question.

If he were an opposing team, would he kick the ball to himself?

“Yeah,” Hester said Friday with a mischievous grin.

Hester, 29, is the most accomplished kick returner in NFL history as he enters his seventh season with the Bears. He has 17 kick return touchdowns (12 punts, five kickoffs) along with a missed field goal return touchdown in 2006, which places him within one return touchdown of Deion Sanders’ all-time record of 19.

Could Hester tie or surpass the player known as “Prime Time” this season? The thought has crossed his mind more than once.

“It does,” Hester said. “I’m not going to sit here and say it doesn’t. It’s one more record I can accomplish.

“I have a lot more years in me, so I’m hoping I can get that [record] as soon as possible so that question and that thought can erase in my mind, and I can go ahead and continue to play ball.”

Yet Hester cannot control how many opportunities he receives in the return game. His scoring ability has led some teams to punt the ball out of bounds rather than challenge the Pro Bowl returner.

In addition to making other tough decisions in his coaching debut, Colts coach Chuck Pagano must determine how to approach Hester.

“You’d like to say we don’t have to punt, but I’m afraid that’s probably not going to happen,” Pagano said. “We’re going to have to kick off to the guy. We’re going to have to punt to the guy.

“He’s arguably one of the best, if not the best, in the history of the game at returning kicks. We’ve just got to do a great job of containing him and trying to keep him corralled and make sure he doesn’t get loose for a big play.

“If we don’t have to kick to him, certainly we’ll try not to.”

Yet coaches have preached caution before and allowed Hester to beat them anyway. Hester returned three kicks for touchdowns in 2011, including a 98-yard kickoff return against Minnesota and punt returns of 69 yards and 82 yards against Carolina and Detroit.

Bears special teams coach Dave Toub has stopped trying to predict how teams will handle Hester in the kick return game.

“You really don’t know,” Toub said. “We’ve seen so many different things. It never surprises me, things that we get. When you think a team is going to kick away, they kick right to him.”

That would be fine by Hester.

“The more balls I get, the more opportunities I get to showcase my talents,” Hester said. “I’m all for it.”


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(nwherald.com)
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Putting Devin Hester in slot could be jackpot

DevinHesterBears2
LAKE FOREST, Ill.—Chicago Bears coaches annually express optimism that wide receiver/return man Devin Hester will be a huge factor in the passing game. That hasn't happened yet, with Hester's career high at 57 receptions in 2009.

This year he's unlikely to go near that number again, but the coaching staff saw evidence in preseason of what they think can be Hester's legitimate role in this attack—one that could make him an even bigger factor than when they thought he would be their No. 1 receiver.

Moving inside to the slot at times, Hester will be matched up on nickel backs and lesser defenders. His previous matchup usually came against one of the top two cornerbacks or even double teams.

With Brandon Marshall, Earl Bennett and Alshon Jeffery attracting the attention, it's also hoped Hester will get more chances for wide-open catches so he can display some of the speed shown so often on special teams.

Anticipate more drag routes or better-devised screens for Hester.

"Now I can go in and just play and not try to put a lot of pressure on myself to be the guy who takes over the game for us," Hester said.

In preseason, there was evidence to support all these possibilities. Hester was targeted four times and caught all four. In the past, the problem wasn't Hester dropping open passes, but him getting open against the top defensive backs or making catches in tight coverage.


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(sportingnews.com)
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Devin Hester Feels Good In New Offensive Role

DevinHesterBears2
The Chicago Bears' offense will enter the 2012-13 season with multiple offensive weapons, but for the first time in a long time one of those featured guns will not be wide receiver and kick returner Devin Hester. But that's OK with him, he told Chicago Sun Times writer Mark Totash.

‘‘Now I can go in and just play and not try to put a lot of pressure on myself to be the guy who takes over the game for us,’’ Hester said. ‘‘We have a lot of depth, and we have a lot of weapons. A majority of the time, safeties cheated to my side [before]. I was getting a lot of balls thrown my way, but I wasn’t getting a lot of mismatches and getting put on guys that aren’t supposed to be out there.’’

The reason for Hester's excitement comes from the new type of offense the Bears will be running under offensive coordinator Mike Tice.

‘‘It’s more of a spread offense. It gets guys in mismatches,’’ Hester said. ‘‘We’ll have four or five playmakers on the field, and it’s going to be like, ‘Who are you going to double-team?’

Despite not being as much of a featured weapon, Hester still feels he can effect a game.

‘‘I feel I’ll always be a playmaker in this offense,’’ he said. ‘‘If I get [fewer] catches, I’ll still end up with a lot of yards. The way this offense is designed, I could have four catches and easily get over 100 yards.’’


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(sbnation.com)
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Devin Hester is in a happy place

DevinHesterBears2
Devin Hester’s profile never has been lower since he signed a four-year, $40 million contract extension in 2008 that made the Pro Bowl kick returner the Bears’ highest-paid wide receiver.

Brandon Marshall is unquestionably the Bears’ No. 1 receiver. Rookie Alshon Jeffery has more potential. Tight end Evan Rodriguez is a more intriguing playmaker. Earl Bennett still is a security blanket quarterback Jay Cutler will look to on third downs and in tight spots.

Though he’s still a starter, Hester is just another guy in this offense — and he couldn’t be happier.

‘‘Now I can go in and just play and not try to put a lot of pressure on myself to be the guy who takes over the game for us,’’ Hester said. ‘‘We have a lot of depth, and we have a lot of weapons. A majority of the time, safeties cheated to my side [before]. I was getting a lot of balls thrown my way, but I wasn’t getting a lot of mismatches and getting put on guys that aren’t supposed to be out there.’’

Hester, who has four receptions for 46 yards in the preseason, is excited about the opportunity to play in an offense he said is more suited for him than any he has played in since he became a wide receiver in 2007.

‘‘It’s more of a spread offense. It gets guys in mismatches,’’ Hester said. ‘‘We’ll have four or five playmakers on the field, and it’s going to be like, ‘Who are you going to double-team?’


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(suntimes.com)
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Study Hester, study greatness

DevinHesterBears2
A former player who’d lived on the roster margin with the Dallas Cowboys once told me how he came in even on his off days to watch extra film, at that time of special teams. Sometimes he went to the Cowboys’ facility well before sunrise on those off days.

“What always amazed me, though, was I never, never got there that there wasn’t light coming from a film projector in one room down the hall,” he said. “No other lights on in the place.

“And there would be Deion Sanders, all by himself, watching, re-running, watching again, studying, studying, studying. It was no wonder he was great, when you put that kind of effort together with natural ability.”

When rookie Greg McCoy came to the Bears, he knew about Devin Hester, knew the natural ability that made Hester unlike any return man in the game, perhaps ever.

What McCoy didn’t know, however, was how much work Hester did in order to be Devin Hester.

“I see greatness, right there in front of you – greatness,” McCoy told CSNChicago.com. “You’ve got to watch him. His attention to detail, how he strives for greatness, it’s so good to be around and it’s rubbing off on me.

“I look at that and why not learn from the best?”

Hester’s natural instincts – even his wayward ones sometimes – are what they are. That can’t be taught.

“But it’s definitely more than that,” McCoy said, shaking his head. “It’s attention to detail on things like how he catches the ball, his feet placement, how he sets up blocks. That’s not instinct – that’s just smart football.

“And there’s discipline. How he knows when to slow down, when to cut, when to make his burst, it’s so much hard work and attention to detail.”


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(csnschicago.com)
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Devin Hester Not Expected To Play Today

DevinHesterBears2
BOURBONNAIS -- Linebacker Brian Urlacher was excused from practice again on Tuesday for personal reasons while receiver/returner Devin Hester was out with sickness, according to coach Lovie Smith. Neither is expected to play on Thursday against the Denver Broncos.

Receiver Eric Weems (ankle) was dressed for practice but did not take an active part in basically a half-speed session without pads for the first time in a week.

The absence of veterans (several others are expected to see little or no playing time on Thursday) is an opportunity for roster hopefuls under game conditions. Daily practices the past several days have concluded with live hitting between reserve offenses and defenses, but this will be different. Far different.


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(csnchicago.com)
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Devin Hester earns more praise from WR coach Darryl Drake

DevinHesterBears2
BOURBONNAIS — It’s that time of year.

‘‘Devin Hester [has improved] in every possible way,’’ Bears wide receivers coach Darryl Drake said, calling Hester the Bears’ most improved receiver. ‘‘Route running, everything. You just see it in everything he does right now. He understands it totally.

‘‘If you watched him in practice today, I mean, how many times did he get covered? You know what I’m saying? There’s just a difference.’’

The notion that Devin Hester is ready for a breakout season as a wide receiver has become as much a rite of Bears training camp as the rookie sensation or the high-profile position battle.

‘‘This is an offense that fits me,’’ Hester said. ‘‘My biggest thing is when I catch the ball, to accelerate and make guys miss. That’s my biggest goal this year: When I get my hands on the ball, I want to just explode out and make two or three guys miss before I go down. If it’s only two out there, I want to score.’’

All he has to do is do it. Hester has proved his harshest critics wrong by becoming a productive NFL wide receiver since making the transition to offense at the end of the 2007 season. He had 51, 57 and 40 receptions from 2008 to ’10, with 10 total touchdowns. But he has yet to become the No. 1 pass-catching threat worthy of the four-year, $40 million contract extension ($15 million guaranteed) he held out of camp for in 2008.


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(suntimes.com)
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Devin Hester hurt but says he's OK

DevinHesterBears2
The Bears got a little bit of a scare -- and still might not be out of the woods -- when wide receiver Devin Hester gingerly walked off the practice field at Olivet Nazarene with an ankle injury after colliding with Major Wright on a downfield pass play.

Hester jogged off the injury on an adjacent practice field, then returned for the final offensive drill of the day, making one catch of a pass from Jay Cutler.

Hester said he expects to practice Saturday night.

''I really don't know [what happened on the play],'' Hester said. ''Both of us were going for the ball. It just kind of happens in football.''

That Hester returned was a good sign. But it remains to be seen how it responds overnight.

''It was bothering me, but at the same time I wanted to see where it was at,'' Hester said. ''You can have a nagging injury, but it won't affect the way you're playing once the ball is snapped. I wanted to see how it felt once the ball is snapped.''

Bears coach Lovie Smith didn't have a problem with Wright's contact on Hester in a non-contact practice. ''We're in pads tomorrow, and there was a little bit of contact today, so we should be good,'' Smith said. ''It's the last day before you go. I'd say most camps around, there will be a little bit of contact right before you get into pads.''


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Devin Hester tried to help his cousin that is wanted on murder charges

DevinHesterBears2
Chicago Bears wide receiver Devin Hester brought his cousin Antoinne Hester to the Chicago area to work at his football camp late last month just days before officials in Florida say he shot and killed a man.

Antoinne Robert Hester, 22, has been charged with murder and is being sought in Broward County, Fla., for the July 4 shooting death of a man in a car on Interstate 95. It’s a troubling family situation for Devin Hester, who told the Chicago Tribune he’s done what he can to help family members over the years, including having his cousins work at his football camp, that was held June 29-30.

“It affects family members," Devin Hester said. "I always have my cousins come to help me, to work in the camp. It helps me and at the same time kind of puts a little money in their pockets. So, three days later, after he left, that incident happened. It is very shocking to me.

“It does take a toll on the family, but at the same time some of my family down there, I hate to say this, but that is just the life they live. And, you know, you try to be a role model with the situation I am in, playing football. But sometimes people are stuck in an environment where they can't get out. It's just the worst situation that he is in and a bad decision that he made.”

Devin Hester does not know where his cousin, who remains a fugitive, is. Police have questioned Devin Hester about his cousin and he says he has cooperated with their efforts.

“Word on the street was he was still up here with me when that incident happened," Devin Hester said. "I told them my cousin, he was home, he left here Sunday (July 1). That was pretty much it. I love my family. I hate to see something like this."


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(sports.yahoo.com)
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Devin Hester: Time with Martz wasn't a waste

DevinHesterBears2
The entire Mike Martz Experience in Chicago can be debated on multiple levels, but one enigma left over from his two seasons as the Bears offensive coordinator is Devin Hester.

Martz raised eyebrows and expectations with glowing predictions for Hester’s role and matchup possibilities. Virtually none of that, along with things like lavish receiving totals for Roy Williams, came close to accomplishment.

But Hester, after seasons of 51 and 57 catches under Ron Turner, dropped to 40 in 2010 and 26 last year, the latter attributable in some measure to nagging injuries and increased use in the return game.

It is the truly wasted negative experience, however, that does not contain something positive, if you look at it from the right angle.

So while Hester was understandably disappointed by the false promises of Martz, he nevertheless does not view his Martz years as wasted by any means.

“I think I became a lot better with Martz,” Hester said Wednesday. “Coach Martz helped me out; not only him, but the players that he previously coached as far as Isaac (Bruce), those guys.

“I really trained with those guys and kind of understand what it takes to be a receiver in the NFL. That really helped out a lot. I would say coach Martz helped me out a lot.”

Hester moved from cornerback to wide receiver under Turner starting in 2007. That was a vastly different scheme than what came in with Martz.

Now he is a third system and one that initially has showed him some of the “plan” details, not just talked about them. The net is that Hester begins this training camp a “veteran” of different offenses and different quarterbacks (Rex Grossman, Kyle Orton, Brian Griese, Jay Cutler, Caleb Hanie,Todd Collins and Josh McCown).

“It’s like coach Tice says, “[it’s] adding another club in your bag.” Going through a lot of offenses, you pick and choose things you feel can help you out and make you a better receiver. I’ve been in about three or four offenses now.

“So I can understand what type of offense is run and what type of offense can work against different defenses.”


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(csnchicago.com)
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Jon Beason In A Key Position Battle

JonBeason
MLB – Jon Beason vs. Luke Kuechly. The Panthers will find a spot for both of them, but there's a question as to which one will man the middle, usually considered the quarterback of the defense. Carolina's first-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, Kuechly was the best defensive player in college last season, setting a record with 15.9 tackles per game. The team committed to Beason, a Pro Bowl MLB, last season, signing him to a $50 million contract extension. But Beason missed most of the year with a torn Achilles. He's attending rookie camp to try to shake off the rust and get his reaction time back. Beason has been willing to change positions to help the team in past seasons, and if he's not all the way back, it might be easier to let Kuechly stay in his old college position.


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(cbssports.com)
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Devin Hester looking to catch then run

DevinHesterBears2
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- By simply stating his main goal for the 2012 NFL season on Wednesday at training camp, Chicago Bears receiver Devin Hester might have revealed a little more about the team’s upcoming plans for him in the new offense under Mike Tice.

“My biggest thing is when I catch the ball, (I want to) accelerate and make guys miss,” Hester said. “That’s my biggest goal this year: when I get my hands on the ball I want to just explode out and I want to make two or three guys miss before I go down. If it’s only two out there, then I want to score.”

Although the remarks come off as somewhat standard football speak, from this vantage point, it seems a major component of the Hester package the staff continuously lauds will involve him catching the ball on short routes in space where he can use his blinding speed and athleticism to make defenders miss for large chunks of yardage.

That’s not to say the Bears don’t plan on throwing deep to Hester.

After all, Tice said in June “we can’t be afraid to throw the ball down the field against single coverage.”

So with the Bears expecting Brandon Marshall to draw double coverage from opponents, Hester could be left in more one-on-one matchups in which a missed tackle -- considering Hester’s speed -- could result in the receiver going the distance.

Working in conjunction with quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates, Tice morphed the passing portion of the offense into a system very similar to the Denver Broncos’ passing offense of 2008. That means Hester will run defined routes on most plays instead of reading and reacting the way receivers did under former coordinator Mike Martz, who utilized a system heavy with hot routes and patterns that had to be broken off based on the look given by the defense.

Hester says the past two seasons in Martz’s system weren’t wasted. In fact, what he learned with Martz could pay dividends in 2012.

“I think I became a lot better with Martz,” Hester said. “I understand what it takes to be a receiver in the NFL. It’s like coach Tice says, (changing the offense is like) ‘adding another club in your bag.’

Going through a lot of offenses, you pick and choose things you feel can help you and make you a better receiver,” Hester said.
“Unfortunately, I’ve been in about three or four offenses now.”

But this one seems to fit more than others, said Hester, who admitted he’s “trying to copycat everything” done on the field by Marshall, who has extensive experience working with Cutler and Bates.

“We’ve got so many weapons now. We’ll be sitting here all day naming everybody. We’ve got deep threat guys, guys that can go up and get the ball,” Hester said. “We’ve got the quick game, and then we’ve got a running attack with three or four guys that can come in right away and do damage to the defense. This is an offense I think fits me. This offense fits everybody.”


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(espn.com)
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Devin Hester, still playing receiver, and that's a good thing

DevinHesterBears2
Yesterday there was a comment on my Facebook page about the poor route running from Chicago Bears wide receiver Devin Hester. It got me to thinking about the player, and how he's improved since being converted to wide out in 2007. Changing positions was the best thing to happen for Hester, as he clearly wasn't going to thrive at corner back. Some would argue that he hasn't thrived as a receiver either, and I'd say to them, so what. Just because the Bears paid him handsomely and changed him to receiver, and talked his skills up, that doesn't make him a number #1 WR. He's still able to impact a game from the receiver position.

Offensively Hester is a gimmick player. He may be the greatest return man of all time, so give the guy the ball a few times a game to see what happens. Hit him on a screen pass or two, run him on an end around, send him deep. He's electric with the ball in his hands, so why not try and hit him on a quick pass so he can go to work.

His hands are average at best. He's not very good at going up and getting the ball. His route running, while not exactly good, has seen improvement since '07. He's gotten better at using his body when the ball is thrown. We used to hear NFL analysts constantly talk about his poor technique, but not any more. Those early years of bashing his game has soured many Bears fans on him as a wide receiver, but he isn't the same player he was then. He's worked hard to improve, and he has improved. He'll never be a big time receiver, but if he can just continue being a threat when he's on the field that's enough for the offense.

The last two years Hester was 13th in the NFL in yards after catch. The YAC stat is an important one for a player like Hester, because his strength is supposed to be running in space. His YAC has improved every year since 2008, and that could mean he's gaining comfort with the position, then again it could just be a coincidence. I lean towards the former.

In the long history of the Chicago Bears, there haven't been many wide outs that stand out. But Hester's numbers do have him in the ballpark of some noteworthy Bears players. Did you know he averages more receptions per game than the 1985 Bears starting wide outs. His 2.6 RPG bests Willie Gault (2.4) and Dennis McKinnon (2.1). His 2.6 RPG is equal to Benrard Berrian and Wendel Davis. Sure handed Tom Waddle only averaged .3 more receptions per game than Hester, as did the all time receiving yardage leader for the Bears, Johnny Morris.

Hester's 194 receptions places him 19th all time in the franchise's history, and a mere 27 more catches will get him up to 13th all time. His 2,565 receiving yards is 21st all time and he's within shouting distance of 14th placed McKinnon's 2,840.

If Devin Hester keeps up his current part time receiver pace, he'll end his career in the top ten in both yards and receptions for the Bears. Even with his offensive plays cut into with the revamped receiving corps for 2012, he'll still have a few opportunities per game to work his magic.


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(sbnation.com)
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Devin Hester could see less playing time

DevinHesterBears2
Chicago Bears WR Devin Hester will likely see a decrease in playing time this upcoming season; however, he could be more productive. Offensive coordinator Mike Tice will make sure he gets Hester in position to make plays whether it's in the backfield or at receiver.




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(fantasysp.com)
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Devin Hester Answers Questions About His Body

DevinHesterBears2
1. Which part of your body do you like the most and why?
Devin Hester, Chicago Bears wide receiver: (Laughs.) I don't even know how to answer that question. I like my legs, but they're skinny. Because I'm fast, I'd say my legs are the best part of my body.

2. Is there a part of your body you wish were bigger or smaller?
Hester: I'd say my calves. I wish my calves were bigger. I don't know, it just makes you look fast to have big calves.

3. What one exercise or drill do you dread the most?
Hester: Probably leg exercises. That's probably why they're skinny. Nothing's wrong with them, though. So if it ain't broke, don't fix it, right?

4. Athletes in what sport, other than your own, have the best bodies?
Hester: C'mon, bro, I can't answer these questions, man. Oh, wait a minute: women's volleyball. No, scratch that, women's track. They've got the best bodies.

5. Fill in the blank: I feel strongest when I'm ...
Hester: I feel strongest when I'm fresh, when my body's fresh and feeling good.


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(espn.com)
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Authorities: Devin Hester's cousin suspected in murder

DevinHesterBears2
The Broward County Sheriff's Office in Florida was searching for the cousin of Chicago Bears wide receiver Devin Hester on Tuesday in connection with a fatal shooting that took place on the Fourth of July.

Antoinne Robert Hester was wanted in connection with the shooting of Bevins Bennett. Hester, 22, is suspected of shooting Bennett while both of them were in an automobile together. Bennett died on Saturday.

There were conflicting reports initially as to whether Antoinne was Devin Hester's brother, but NFL.com and NFL Network confirmed Tuesday that they are cousins. The Broward County Sheriff's Office confirmed separately to ESPNChicago that officials have been in contact with the family of Antoinne Hester, including Devin. The family has cooperated fully with the investigation.


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(nfl.com)
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Where to See Devin Hester Doing Good

DevinHesterBears2
Bears fans have two chances coming up to meet some of their favorite players and spend money on worthwhile causes.

On July 21, Devin Hester will hold an autograph signing in Crystal Lake. He'll autograph any item for $79 and add a personal inscription for an extra $30. Proceeds from the event will go to benefit 4-year-old Sean Keller, who is fighting leukemia. His family needs help with hospital bills, and they are thrilled Sean's favorite player is lending a hand.

According to the Northwest Indiana Times, Keller will get to meet Hester at the event, and he has just one question about the Bears kick returner and receiver.

“He’s like, ‘How big is he? Is he bigger than Daddy?’ That’s what he wants to know,” Sean’s mother, Val Keller, said with a laugh.

The signing starts at 6 p.m. at Joseph’s Market Place, 29 Crystal Lake Plaza, in Crystal Lake. Click here to buy tickets.


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(nbcchicago.coom)
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Devin Hester Hosts Football Camp




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Why Chicago Needs to Stop the Hester Experiment

DevinHesterBears2
It's hard to remember how this happened, but someone once suggested Devin Hester would make a good wide receiver.

Now, entering his seventh season, will he get around to that?

Don't hold your breath.

Hester believes he's due "because of (offensive coordinator) Mike Tice. When a guy comes up to you and says, ‘If I can’t get the ball in your hands I don’t deserve to be a head coach.’ For a guy to say that and know what I’m capable of and honestly says he has a lot of faith in me, (that’s encouraging),” Hester said.

But Mike Tice isn't a head coach. He's an offensive coordinator. He was a head coach. He put up an astounding record of 32-33 when he was a head coach.

Perhaps he's become afflicted with Mike Martz syndrome, where you think you're still the head coach of your old team, so you start calling plays that don't work with your personnel.

Roll the clock back and you'll remember Devin Hester was once a defensive back. When he started returning kicks, everyone salivated at the opportunity of using him on offense. But it hasn't worked. And it won't.

Gather 'round and heed the story of Deion Sanders. He was a defensive back and a return man extraordinaire. In 1996, someone with the Cowboys thought he'd make an awesome wide receiver. One season, 36 receptions, 475 yards and one touchdown later, the experiment was over. (And he still played DB during that stretch.)

In five seasons as a receiver, Hester's only topped Sanders' yardage twice. And he's been a full-time receiver. So if Hester can't put up better numbers than a part-time wide receiver who played the position for just one year, what's the point?

Last year, Hester grabbed a terrible 26 receptions for 369 yards and one touchdown. Again, worse than the one-year Sanders experiment.

Hester isn't much of a route runner. He doesn't even have great hands. At 5-foot-11, he's not an effective end zone target. What he does best is find holes and blow through them at full speed. So why not use him as a running back in some kind of wildcat formation? Put him 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage and let him pick his spots. Or not. That's probably a dumb idea, too.

It's wonderful that Hester is possibly the greatest return man in NFL history. But you didn't see teams bending over backward to accommodate Eric Metcalf or Vai Sikahema or Mel Gray. Sometimes you have a Steve Tasker on your team. And you just wait for special teams to let him be special.


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(nbcchicago.com)
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Devin Hester: Tice is key to impact at WR

DevinHesterBears2
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Seemingly every offseason reports emerge declaring the upcoming year to be the one in which Devin Hester finally consistently makes an impact on the Chicago Bears’ offense.

Perhaps this time, it’s the truth, Hester believes.

Why?

“I’ll say because of (offensive coordinator) Mike Tice. When a guy comes up to you and says, ‘If I can’t get the ball in your hands I don’t deserve to be a head coach.’ For a guy to say that and know what I’m capable of and honestly says he has a lot of faith in me, (that’s encouraging),” Hester said.

Teammates Brandon Marshall and Jay Cutler have also consistently uttered similar glowing comments about Hester, with both saying he’s poised for a breakout 2012 season. Just last month, receivers coach Darryl Drake gave some insight as to how the team plans to use Hester.

“I’ll say this about Devin Hester, and I’ve always said it: all we’ve got to do is use him, and you’ll see what kind of player he is, period,” Drake said. “If he’s out there, put the ball in his hands. We need to have that package, and (offensive coordinator) Mike Tice -- I promise you -- he's gonna do it.”

Working with quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates, Tice has already tweaked the passing portion of Chicago’s offense to a system very similar to the Denver Broncos’ passing offense of 2001. That means Hester will run defined routes on most plays instead of trying to think through the system the way receivers did under former coordinator Mike Martz, who utilized a scheme heavy with hot routes and routes that had to be broken off based on the look shown by the defense.

Martz’s system played a role in the team’s receiving corps playing somewhat apprehensively in the past.

“It’s gonna be a lot easier for those guys,” Cutler said of the new system.

The addition of Marshall also contributes to the team’s optimism concerning Hester. Widely considered one of the NFL’s top receivers, Marshall will likely draw double coverage from defenses, and that will result in single coverage somewhere on the field, possibly on Hester.

That's what the Bears expect this season, and the club plans to make opponents pay.

“We can’t be afraid to throw the ball down the field against single coverage. If we get single coverage, we’ve got to be able to take advantage of that,” Tice said. “Free access on a great player should be something that a defense should be punished for doing, I’ve always felt that. We’re going to make sure we do that.”

Such statements light up the eyes of Hester, who plans to “take a week and a half off” before getting back into training mode to “make sure my body is ready when it’s time for camp.”

“It’s gonna be so competitive (at the receiver position), not in a bad way but in a good way,” Hester said. “Every guy -- once they step on the field -- (is) capable of making big plays. That’s the good thing about this team: it’s (full of) a lot of great athletes.”


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(espn.com)
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Toub: Hester still No. 1 kickoff returner

DevinHesterBears2
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears special teams coordinator Dave Toub clarified Devin Hester's role on kickoff returns Wednesday in the wake of the club adding former Pro Bowl return man/wide receiver Eric Weems to the roster in free agency.

Weems signed a three-year contract with the Bears on March 14 after spending the previous five seasons in Atlanta where he posted consecutive 1,000-yard return seasons (2009,10) on kickoffs for the Falcons.

"[Hester’s] still our No. 1 kickoff returner," Toub said. "So when we need a big one Devin is going to be in there. We have the luxury of having Eric Weems, so there will be times when we have them both back there. We'll kind of trick people as to who exactly is going to get the ball… we'll kind of move one guy up late. We'll also try to make them kick it away from Devin, maybe he can get the ball to Weems at times. There will also be times when just Weems is back there with a fullback. He's definitely a luxury for us. [Weems] can take it to the house, I mean he's scored touchdowns [on kickoff returns] and went to the Pro Bowl before.

"We're fortunate to have him."

Weems is expected to contribute in several phases of special teams, not just in the return game. Toub believes Weems can help replace 2011 Pro Bowl selection Corey Graham, who left the Bears in the offseason to sign with the Baltimore Ravens.

"That's the good thing about him; he's a good returner but he's also a good cover guy," Toub said. "He's here because he's a good cover guy. He's a No. 1 gunner. He's done a good job in that role.

"The other guy who's going to pick up a lot of slack is Blake Costanzo. He was a really good pickup for us. Those two guys were our No. 1 free agents on special teams and we got them both. They're both really good additions."


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(espn.com)
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Devin Hester lists 1 of 3 homes

DevinHesterBears2
Chicago Bears wide receiver and punt return specialist Devin Hester has listed one of his three Chicago-area houses, marketing his five-bedroom, 3,100-square-foot home in Gurnee for $329,900.

Hester's primary residence is his mansion in Riverwoods, which he bought in 2008 for $2.2 million. He also owns a house in Lake in the Hills that he purchased in 2007 for $205,000.

In Gurnee, Hester is set to take a pretty serious loss on his home. He paid $436,000 for it in late 2006.

Features include 31/2 baths, an upgraded kitchen, a family room with fireplace, a master suite with two walk-in closets and vaulted ceilings, a two-story living room, a finished basement and three-car garage.

Listing agent Lori Progar of Coldwell Banker in Libertyville likened the house's decor to Hester's exciting style of play.

"The house has that dramatic Devin look to it," Progar said. "You walk in, and it has a two-story living room; it has a catwalk hallway upstairs, which opens to below; it has soaring ceilings in the master bedroom; and it's just large, open and dramatic."


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(chicagotribune.com)
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Devin Hester thinks kickoff returns will be limited

DevinHesterBears2
We've heard a lot about the "Devin package" this offseason. The Chicago Bears have talked up Devin Hester's role in the offense repeatedly, just like they do every offseason.

The plan is to create special plays for Hester on offense and let him defend his league-leading punt return average. It sounds like Hester will not be involved on kickoffs much.

"I think every now and then, I'm going to do kickoffs," said Hester, according to a Tuesday report from the Chicago Tribune. "It will depend on how the game is going."

The Bears already have talked up free-agent addition Eric Weems as the man to replace Hester on returns. They also signed Devin Thomas, as they prepared to move Hester off kickoffs, something he hasn't been that effective doing in recent years anyway.

The news brings up a familiar debate in Chicago: Should the Bears "waste" Hester's energy on offense when he could save it for returns?

He isn't ranked so high on the "Top-100: Players of 2012" because of his wideout skills.

Based on the reduction in Hester's kickoff duties, this isn't a debate that is likely to end anytime soon.


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(nfl.com)
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Expect limited returns from Hester

DevinHesterBears2
Devin Hester remains too dynamic and explosive to reach the point of no returns, but kickoffs might not be his forte in 2012.

Coach Lovie Smith mentioned the luxury of being able to relieve Hester from kickoff returns after the team signed veterans Eric Weems and Devin Thomas. The Bears also seem intent on implementing a "Hester package" on offense that could necessitate limiting Hester's special teams workload.

"I think every now and then, I'm going to do kickoffs," said Hester, who still is expected to handle most punt returns. "It will depend on how the game is going.

"If I'm involved in the offense the whole first and second quarters, maybe I'll tell them to cut back on the kickoff returns. If I'm not getting that many touches on offense, of course I'm going to want to get some more touches on kickoff returns. That's how I see things panning out."

Hester led the league in punt-return average last season at 16.2 yards but was 24th on kickoffs at 21.9. Thomas, who played for the Super Bowl champion Giants last season, ranked 14th at 24.3. Weems, formerly of the Falcons, finished 18th at 23.5.

"Eric is a Pro Bowl special teams guy," Hester said. "He has returned kicks. He has returned punts. When I watch (Thomas) return kickoffs in practice, he looks like he's really good at it. We have a lot of people who can do the same thing, so it's not all on one person's shoulders."

The Bears already have discussed using Weems as the primary kickoff returner, particularly with Johnny Knox (spinal fusion surgery) likely out of the mix. Weems has 113 career kickoff returns for 2,896 yards (25.6 yards per return) with a 102-yard touchdown and seven returns of 40-plus yards.

"It's a good thing between (Hester) and I," Weems said. "We're been splitting things so far in practice. Whichever way it is during the season, teams will have to pick their poison.

"Devin, he's a speed guy — quickness and speed. He likes to get around the edges and make people miss. I'm more of a hit-it returner. I just hit it hard."

The Bears have had similar contrasting styles in recent years with Hester returning kicks alongside speedsters Danieal Manning and Knox. In fact, the Bears limited Hester's returns to seven in 2009 when Knox (32) and Manning (28) handled the bulk of them. That season, Hester caught a career-high 57 passes for 757 yards and three touchdowns.

Hester has an NFL-record 17 return touchdowns in 92 games, 12 off punts. He averaged 35.6 yards on 12 kickoff returns in 2010, which provides a reason for the Bears to keep him in the mix.

But the new kickoff rules have taken some of the luster away from players such as Hester. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the percentage of touchbacks on kickoffs increased from 16.4 percent in 2010 to 43.5 percent last season under rules that stipulate kickoffs from the 35-yard line rather than the 30.

"You have to deal with it," Weems said of the rules. "(After a year,) it has no effect on me. Sometimes, you take your chances. Sometimes, you don't.''

Weems believes he will have the opportunity to gamble a little more with the Bears than he did with the Falcons.

"Dave Toub, he's an aggressive coach," Weems said of his special teams coordinator. "He takes chances. My cutoff in Atlanta was like 105 yards deep, depending on how I gathered momentum. With Toub? He really hasn't set a standard yet."

Hester raised the standard for returns a long time ago.


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(chicagotribune.com)
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Devin Hester Says He May 'Never Be A No. 1 Receiver'

DevinHesterBears2
For the past handful of years, Devin Hester has carried a burden all his own. When Brandon Marshall became a Bear, the biggest part of that burden was lifted.

It was the “curse” of the No. 1 receiver, the fuzzy, loosely defined identifier that fans and media have tried to fit Hester with since he and the Bears agreed in 2008 to a contract extension that contained escalators that could have made the last two years of the deal worth $10 million per, based on hitting numbers befitting a No. 1 receiver.

That didn’t happen. With Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, it probably won’t. And Marshall’s prediction that Hester will have an All-Pro season shortly won't come true.

And that is fine with Hester. More than fine, in fact.

“I can just sit back and play now,” Hester told CSNChicago.com. “Everybody wanted me to be the No. 1 receiver. I might never be a No. 1 receiver. But I’ll be Devin Hester. That’s it. That’s my mindset.”

Hester wanted a shot at being an elite receiver and was willing to bet on himself with the escalators if he was as good as he, and the Bears hoped.

He worked through injuries in 2011 that contributed to his totaling just 26 receptions, one fewer than undrafted rookie free agent Dane Sanzenbacher and only slightly better than the 20 he had in 2007, the year before he became a full-time receiver.

He’s heard the criticisms: “You get listed as that No. 1 receiver but you’re not making 1,000-yard seasons, then red flags get thrown,” Hester said. “But I’m capable of doing that.”

The irony is that the single biggest potential drain on his potential opportunities – Marshall – is also the biggest believer in Hester outside of receivers coach Darryl Drake.

Marshall has not caught fewer than 81 passes in any of the last five seasons. Hester has never caught more than his 57 two years ago. Marshall has looked past the Hester numbers and it has meant a great deal to Hester.

“When guys come in, like a Pro Bowl receiver [Marshall], and see that you didn’t have stats, some people would say, ‘he’s not really that good,’” Hester said, shaking his head.

“But to come out and work with me every day and see what I’m capable of, and be high on me -- that speaks for itself.”


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(cnschicago.com)
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Knox grateful to Hester for 'keeping me positive'

DevinHesterBears2
Johnny Knox realizes he has full support from all of his Chicago Bears’ teammates, but there is one guy in particular he can lean on.

Devin Hester became emotional Wednesday when talking about Knox’s laborious recovery from spinal fusion surgery. The two receivers spend much time together away from football, and Hester has joined Knox for his rehab sessions
at Halas Hall.

"Devin has been there for me on and off the field throughout my career," Knox said. "He’s someone I’ve always looked up to since the first day I got here. He is someone I truly trust as a friend."

Knox already admitted there is a chance he could miss the 2012 season. His recovery has been complicated by a slow-healing bruised nerve.

"The pinched nerve in his spine, it’s a tough process," Hester said. "It’s tough to be around a person you’re close with and see him go through that."

Knox suffered the injury after absorbing a blow from Seahawks defensive end Anthony Hargrove in a Dec. 18 loss to Seattle. He wore a back brace for 21/2 months and loss 30 pounds. Knox has since gained 10 pounds back.

Hester noted how Knox sometimes gets frustrated with the recovery process, but Hester won’t let his close friend give up.

Knox appreciates the encouragement.

"Devin has done a great job of keeping me positive," Knox said. "He has been more worried about my health than if or when I am going to return to the field. That means a lot to me -- that he is more concerned about my health than when I am going to play again."


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(chicagotribune.com)
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