Drake: 'Frustrated' Hester needs to be more involved
By Vaughn McClure, Tribune reporter
2:08 p.m. CST, January 29, 2013
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 teamís 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 Devinís going to sit back and reassess where heís at. I think he has a lot left in him.
"He has to decide if he wants to continue to play, whether itís here in Chicago or somewhere else."
Hester, a three-time Pro Bowler who established his reputation with an NFL-record 17 kick 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 í11 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. Thatís just how heís made. If things are right, then heíll excel. If not, then he may struggle here and there."
Drake doesnít believe learning the receiver position while continuing to be the teamís top kick returner complicated matters for Hester.
"That wasnít a lot for him to shoulder," Drake said. "Devin just needs to be involved. When you have a guy of his caliber, youíve got to get him involved. Guys like him feed off success. When he wasnít involved, then he was frustrated. Itís hard to play this game frustrated. Thatís the bottom line."
It was obvious that Hester wasnít 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 Ė he has another year left on his contract and is due a base salary of $1.86 million Ė heíll 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 donít know if that will ever happen," Drake said. "I think itís 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. Theyíre 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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