Here's the First "Boy Am I Glad To Hear That" Story of the Week............
Raiders have no fear of kicking to Hester
By Brad Biggs, Tribune reporter 4:34 p.m. CST, November 23, 2011
Oakland Raiders safety Mike Mitchell has a lot of respect for Chicago Bears return man Devin Hester, but he might need to acquaint himself with the NFL record books.
Mitchell ranked Hester second in the league in terms of dangerous return men behind the Raiders’ speedy Jacoby Ford, who has four kickoff returns for touchdowns in a little more than 1 1/2 seasons in the league.
Hester has three return scores this season and an NFL-record 17 combined kickoff and punt return touchdowns in his career.
“He’s the best besides Jacoby, you can quote that, too,” Mitchell told Oakland media Wednesday. “Besides Jacoby, I think he’s the best returner in the league, extremely fast, he has great vision and his blockers really do a great job blocking for him, too. It’s not a lot of times you see him making guys miss. He’s getting great blocks and then he might break one tackle. They have a great punt return unit. He believes in his return unit and then obviously he’s a fearless guy and hits the hole and goes really fast.”
Mitchell went on to say the Raiders won’t have any fear kicking to Hester with Shane Lechler one of the best punters in the league.
“Hopefully we’re scoring touchdowns every time and we don’t punt,” Mitchell said. “That’s the best thing. As a punt unit, I feel like we have the best weapon in the league in Shane Lechler. We’re going to punt to anybody. I don’t think we’re afraid to punt to a specific player. Like we said this week getting ready for this game: He has to play us. We don’t have to play him. He has to worry more about 11 guys trying to take his head off then we do about him housing one. I think that’s going to be our mentality for every returner that we play.”
Mitchell doesn’t believe the Raiders will order Lechler to punt the ball out of bounds, a strategy a lot of opponents have been using recently.
“I don’t think Bones would ever do that because we have a guy who can punt a ball 60 yards in the air,” Mitchell said. “We’re going to take every advantage of that. We have the biggest, fastest guys in the league covering our punts. We just have to get down field and outrun their protection team and make tackles. After he gets machine gunned a couple of times he’s not going to be too quick to return punts. I’m not talking any trash either. I think he’s the best punt returner, best returner besides Jacoby. Jacoby’s on my time. I think he’s awesome. But our mentality is he has to play us.”
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