Devin Hester has golden opportunity to end slump against Lions in prime time

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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