Bears' Hester long overdue
By Vaughn McClure, Chicago Tribune reporter7:56 p.m. CDT, October 12, 2012
It's coming. Devin Hester promises.
The most dangerous return man in NFL history, with an NFL-record, 17-career kick-return touchdowns, has been rather quiet through the first five games. Hester realizes he's way overdue.
"We've been close and close for the past five weeks,'' he said. "We're always one man short away from breaking one. It's bound to hit any minute now.
"We just have to be patient, make sure I don't make any stupid errors to cost the team a win with a turnover. You just have to play smart and continue to press on.''
Coach Lovie Smith subtly has put the press on Hester and the special teams unit to make an impact in the return game. Hester's last kick return for a score was Nov. 13 of last season, when he ran back a punt 82 yards against the Lions at Soldier Field.
The Lions happen to be the Bears' next opponent a week from Monday. And on paper, they seem like the ideal opponent to kick-start Hester.
During a 44-41 loss to the Titans in Week 3, the Lions surrendered a 105-yard kickoff return touchdown to Darius Reynaud and a 65-yard punt-return score to Tommie Campbell on a trick play. Their next game, the Lions again allowed two kick-return scores in a loss to the Vikings: Percy Harvin's 105-yard kickoff return and Marcus Sherels' 77-yard punt return. According to Stats, the Lions are the first team since at least 1940 to give up a kickoff and punt return for touchdowns in consecutive games.
Hester expects to see improved Lions' coverage units.
"You can't look at it as (easy) because teams play each individual differently,'' Hester said. "We could get a different type of special teams mentality when those guys come to play us. Guys may chill against other teams and play more laid-back, but we know when they step on the field against us, those coaches are going to have those guys hyped up.''
Hester believes opposing coverage teams are playing more disciplined and spacing wider apart to keep him from hitting the edge.
"We might change up our returns a little bit, call a middle return here and there to get those guys to squeeze in,'' Hester said. "We know what has been good and helped us out before, so we've been trying to stick to our basics. But we're capable of doing other things.''
It's not as if Hester is overexerting himself on offense, although his role as a receiver might increase now with Alshon Jeffery (fractured hand) sidelined. Hester stands 11th in the league in kickoff return average at 26.9 yards per game, with a long of 38 yards. He is 20th in punt returns with an average of 7.8 yards and a long of 23.
Hester believes in his blockers, but six of the players on the field for his last score versus the Lions are no longer on the team. Corey Graham, now with the Ravens, threw key early blocks on both Hester's 82-yarder against the Lions and his 98-yard kickoff return versus the Vikings last season.
"Yes, Corey Graham is one of those great special teams guys, and you never want to lose a guy like that,'' Hester said. "It lingers in the back of your mind. But at the same time, you just have to adapt and adjust to it.
"Sometimes, yeah, it can be hard to adjust. Sometimes, I feel like we're not all on the same page. It could be on me. And sometimes, it could be on the other players. Once we get on the same page and understand how we play and how we think … it comes with time. It doesn't happen overnight.''
Special teams coordinator Dave Toub expects Hester to break one soon no matter how much the recent kickoff rule limits returns and no matter how many times opposing punters try to kick away.
"We went two years without getting Devin a touchdown. Other guys got touchdowns instead,'' Toub said. "We're not hitting the panic button by any means. But the guys know when we get the ball in our hands, we need to make a play.''
Copyright © 2012, Chicago Tribune
Hester hasn't really impressed me so far with his returns. Ofcause as they point out Graham played a key role, but I think they should have made a bigger impact as an unit even tho they're missing one importen guy. It would be really great to see a return form him against the Lions. A week to improve the ST, Lions have given up what 3-4 returns, with perhaps the best returner in the history I wouldn't rule out a return.. What do you guys think?
Depends whether the Lions start tackling people. We will find that out on Sunday (14 Oct).
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I see that says 10/12, but didn't we have an atricle talking about this w/this exact title? McClure so worn out of idea's he's flat taking old articles and reconstituting them?
No he's not over due, rules changes and age(weird to say seeing as he's not that old) have changed how he can play. He's a tinge slower then he used to be now. He's still more then capable of helping the O now though, get him 3-4 catches a game and he'll be able to use what he has left to take one home.
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Ric i agree but would like to also add with Knox out he is our only speed we on the roster and as we know when Hester is focused on as a wr his st output slows with it
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I'll side with Ric and Mo on this one. I think we're all aware that as snaps as a WR go up his return averages go down so my guess is this shouldn't be unexpected by anyone including the Bears coaches.
Like Dave Toub points out he had a drought as far as TD returns before and just about the time people started writing him off back he comes in spades. It'll happen and when it does much like in the past they'll probably come in clumps. He won't get just one he'll get two or three with 16 games.
The guy is still one of the most if not the most dangerous open field runner in the NFL so sooner or later it'll happen. Mr. Ridiculous isn't done setting records just yet.
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I just think he's pressing a bit. He should just take what's there instead of always looking for the big TD return. That's when it will happen & I agree with ya Soul, when he gets one the flood gates will open! It wouldn't surprise be if it happens a week from Monday.
What I have seen is a lack of blocking for him. He has to run east & west to try to find any kind of a hole. He doesn't need much of a hole but he DOES need that little bit of daylight to make something happen and as to date hasn't had that from his ST blockers. JMHO though.
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I would imagine coming off the bye week the ST blocking will be improved and game-planned a bit better. It's only a matter of time before we see a spike in returns. I'd also like to see a punt block or two this season but that's me.
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