Bears receiver Devin Hester, who aims to get heavily involved in the team’s 2010 return game after taking a backseat in ’09, says he played hurt throughout last season.
“I was really banged up this year,” Hester said. “I really couldn’t use my left shoulder, really.”
Hester missed three of Chicago’s final four games with calf and ankle injuries.
“My quickness wasn’t there,” he added. “I couldn’t push off.”
Still managing 57 receptions for 757 yards and three touchdowns, Hester was better in the full-time receiver role than a lot of observers predicted.
New offensive coordinator Mike Martz indicated that he envisions Hester as a potential slot receiver when assessing the Bears’ receiver corps.
“Boy they’ve got some speed,” Martz said. “And that really is kind of a diamond to me. When you look at that group, they can be a real strength of this football team. With [Devin] Aromashodu and [Johnny] Knox is a real diamond to me, and Hester, what he can do whether he’s outside or in the slot, the matchups on these guys are extreme.”
The slot receiver in Martz’s offense is an every-down player and just as likely a candidate to lead the team in receptions as either of the outside wideouts.
Hester will have to show improved durability to excel in the role. He’ll be going over the middle a lot more often. Hester’s role in the return game remains up in the air.