Jim Caldwell praises Devin Hester

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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