Earlier this season, Bears punt return specialist Devin Hester tied the NFL record for career kick return touchdowns with an 89-yard punt return against Seattle. It was Hester's 13th career punt or kickoff return for a score tying former Eagle Brian Mitchell.
After seeing his punt return reps reduced over the previous two seasons to allow him to focus on his development as a receiver, the Bears decided to put him back in the spot where he is the most dangerous. And, once again, teams have to re-think their strategy when it comes to punting against the Bears. Hester is first in the NFC and second in the NFL with an average of 15.0 yards per punt return.
Special teams coordinator Bobby April would like to make sure that average is cut in half this Sunday.
"Our goal every week is to limit the returner to a 7-yard average. He's no different," April said. "He is different from the standpoint that, at some point he's going to have the record, in a very short period of time, for the most touchdowns ever. In that short and that brief of a career, you'd have to be considered the greatest return man ever. ... We know he is a bigger challenge than most people, but the same goals (exist). We want to do the same things every week."
April explained that it's Hester's combination of vision, speed and strength that sets him apart.
"I think he's different from the standpoint of he really knows where to go with the ball. He finds that thing (quickly). He's running over here, he sees something over there. He's like Minnesota Fats. He's playing a couple shots ahead. He's a couple shots ahead of these other guys that return," April said.
"He has that burner speed, and he's got running back-type strength. He breaks some tackles, too. (He has a) combination of size and speed, and he's really kind of a running back. He has receiver skills (as well). He's just a phenomenal (player). If a guy ever went into the Hall of Fame strictly on returning, he or Brian Mitchell would have to be those guys."
-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 5:00 p.m., November 25