Bears say Devin Hester is still returning kickoffs

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There’s been quite a bit of talk about Devin Hester’s role on the Bears in 2012 recently.

Offensive coordinator Mike Tice said he should be fired if he doesn’t figure out a way to get Hester involved in the offense and Michael C. Wright of reported that Hester is currently slated to start opposite Brandon Marshall at receiver with rookie Alshon Jeffrey in the slot. He’s also got a certain flair for the punt return game, all of which adds up to a lot of snaps for Hester.

When the Bears signed Eric Weems this offseason, it gave them another experienced kickoff returner. Weems’ presence and the talk of an increased offensive role made some think that Hester’s role on kickoff returns would decrease. Special teams coach Dave Toub said that’s not the case.

“Hester is our punt returner and he is our No. 1 kickoff returner,” Toub said, via Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. “He is still our No. 1 kickoff returner. … We can put (Weems and Hester) back there and if they kick away from Devin, they’ll kick it to Weems and we’ll be in good shape.”

It sounds like we’re going to see a lot of Hester this season. That must be why Marshall thinks Hester is going to have a better year than him.

The Bears used Johnny Knox on kickoff returns in a similar way last season. He wound up returning 15 kicks for a 26.5-yard average, higher than Hester’s, before a back injury ended his season and his status for 2012 is still up in the air. Weems averaged 23.5 yards per return last season in Atlanta last year and returned a kickoff for a touchdown in 2010.

16 responses to “Bears say Devin Hester is still returning kickoffs

  1. The move to make Hester more of a receiver and then diminishing his returns to which he was record breaking great… was one of the worst management decisions I’ve ever seen.

  2. “with rookie Alshon Jeffrey in the slot”

    No. Bennett will be in the slot. Jeffrey is not a slot receiver.

    Marshall #1

    Hester/Jeffrey #2 (dependent on situation)

    Bennet= Slot.

  3. he is one of the best; returning kicks and punts should be the main thing he does. he ISN’T steve smith though. the bears can’t wrap their head around that. if he were anything remotely comparable to steve smith this would never have been a serious question.

  4. It really isn’t that difficult.

    Hester is a special player. He’s broken records as a special teams player. He’s special speed is his best asset…so taking him off of SPECIAL TEAMS and putting him as a receiver is not the right move.

    Have Marshall is the one, lined up at the other end is Alshon. Bennet as the slot.

    Hester full time kick + punt return.

  5. vickspuppy says: May 13, 2012 12:40 PM

    NFC North Cellar Dwellers no matter where Hester plays.
    I think it’s kinda cute when fans from other teams start getting nervous. I mean that in the most unmanly way possible.


  6. Not a Bears fan, but Hester has given me some thrilling football memories. Just love watching this guy on returns!

  7. You say higher than Hester’s average, but you don’t actually provide us with the stats

    Hester averaged just 21.9 yards/kick return last season. For his career, he averages 23.6. That is PEDESTRIAN. He had 1 98-yard TD, and averaged less than 20 yards/return otherwise, meaning when he did take it out of the end zone he didn’t return to the 20.

    Switching to receiver, combined with changes in personnel, DID hurt his punt return numbers after his second season. Taking him out of kick returns, however, was because Danieal Manning (26.6 per KR) and Johnny Knox (27.4 per return) did far more for Chicago in the field position battle.

  8. Percy Harvin has 4 KR TDs in less than 100 total returns and he averages 26.6 yards/return.

    Compare to:

    23.6 yards return, 5 TDs in 146 total KRs

    Harvin is currently the best KR in football, and that’s coming from a Bears fan. Hester will always be the best PR of all time in all likelihood, but his crown shouldn’t encompass KR’s

  9. If I’m Mike Tice, I’m not encouraging anyone to fire me. Firing Mike Tice is the first thought after hiring Mike Tice after all.

  10. After reading that headline, all I could think is that somebody should tell him the season is over…

  11. 1.6M this year and 11.9M next year due on Hester’s contract. The Bears need him happy at least midway through this season until the new WR corp forms up and they know the final disposition of Knox.

    All the talk surrounding Hester at the moment is lip service in an attempt to placate him into not thinking about an extension. No way the Bears retain his services for 2013, paying 11.9M for an aging return man and a #3 WR is just folly. No matter what level of darling Hester has become to Chicago fans.

    Expect the Bears to have Hester on the field in 2012 enough to make him feel relevant – but unless Hester has a lights out year for the Bears and is willing to restructure that 10M signing bonus out of his contract in 2013 – this may well be the last year you see Hester in a Bears uniform.

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