Hester having to prove his worth as returner

Devin Hester upset Pro Bowl is ditching kick returns

Trestman is dedicated to maintaining the team’s solid standing in special teams, and the Bears get ample work in practice. They spent time on kickoff return Wednesday, and it didn’t look like Hester, 30, had lost a step. But isn’t it hard to determine where Hester is without an actual game? “It is and it isn’t,” DeCamillis said. “One of the things he’s done a great job of is he’s got a lot of reps. He’s got a lot of catches. He’s got a lot of situational things we’ve done. He’s in a great frame of mind right now.

Devin Hester upset returners out of Pro Bowl

Chicago Bears v Jacksonville Jaguars

(Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune) When the Chicago Bears talked about having Devin Hester focus on what he does best, they meant it. The electric return man was on the sideline for all but special teams drills during Tuesdays first day of voluntary minicamp inside the Walter Payton Center at Halas Hall. It was an unusual move as typically even dedicated returners still play some positional role during practice. But Hester did not work with the wide receivers as he has ever since his second season in the NFL in 2007. He worked fielding kicks and also lined up in some drills for kick coverage, tackling dummies at one point. I love it, man, Hester said after practice. Asked if he will get used to a practice pattern typically reserved for the kicker, punter and long snapper, Hester said there will be more for him down the road.

Off the Chicago Bears Devin Hester Jersey Snap: Devin Hester says Pro Bowl rule changes ‘suck’

“A good way to start off fast,” Hester said of his return. “I knew I wasn’t going to get many today. Preseason, we know they’re not trying to kick it out, so they’re going to give us good returnable balls just to see where their coverage skills are. So I was able to get one in before I got snatched up. I don’t want to show them too much. I don’t want teams to be afraid to kick it.” Can Hester convince teams to kick to him while proving he’s still dangerous enough to get a nice, new contract? That’s the challenge this year. At 30 (he turns 31 in November) Hester is likely near the end of his career, though he thinks he has a few good years left as a pure returner. They might not be in Chicago. With the Bears under new management, he’s one of 43 Bears with expiring contracts.

Hester: ‘One foot in’ the Hall of Fame

That means fewer greenbacks for guys like Hester and Josh Cribbs . Schein: Early returns, early concerns The first week of training camp brought a number of big developments across the NFL. Adam Schein sorts through the fallout. More … Two seasons ago, the NFL moved kickoffs up five yards to the 35-yard line in league play, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has mulled removing the return game altogether in the name of player safety. Not a pretty picture for guys like Hester. “If you are taking the returner out of the Pro Bowl , you’re taking two positions out.” Hester said. “That will suck for me. They are trying to change up the whole game of football and they’re messing with people’s jobs and lives.” It sure seems like the Pro Bowl is being used as a testing ground.

Hester comfortable with no role on offense

Head coach Marc Trestman watches Devin Hester receive a punt on Tuesday during the Bears minicamp in the Walter Payton Center at Halas Hall.

The violent nature of those plays coverage teams charging 60 yards downfield and slamming into the blocking units are of great concern to the league. A few years back, the NFL enacted a rule change that eliminated wedge blocking on kick returns, in hopes that would decrease injuries. Already, it appears that the Philadelphia Eagles potential three-man quarterback derby has been pared down to a head-to-head showdown. Rookie Matt Barkley is likely a distant third, Jordan Raannan of NJ.com reported , with the former USC QB running exclusively with the third team so far in camp. While that should come as no real surprise given that both Michael Vick and Nick Foles have NFL experience, Barkley was thought to be a sleeper candidate in Philadelphias QB race after the Eagles traded up for him in Round 4 of this years draft. A heavy does of tight end action for the rest of this Off the Snap First up, the Ravens and their ongoing quest to replace Dennis Pitta in the lineup for 2013. Ed Dicksons the favorite to take on most of Pittas snaps as the first-team TE, but rookie Kyle Juszczyk (aka An Editors Nightmare) might have an opportunity to pitch in, too. Juszczyk told Garrett Downing of BaltimoreRavens.com, I definitely see that as a possibility. I wouldnt be surprised if I started doing a little bit more of that. Listed as a fullback on Baltimores roster, Juszczyk actually led Harvard in receptions last season with 52. He even had a 15-catch game against Princeton in which he played more of an H-back role.

Devin Hester catches a punt at Halas Hall.

Hester is the greatest return man in NFL history and his next return touchdown will tie Hall of Famer Deion Sanders for the most in NFL history at 19. … There is only one player in the Hall of Fame, kicker Jan Stenerud, who never played offense or defense. Punter Ray Guy someday may get there, while Hester, who came into the league as a cornerback and moved to wide receiver, knows to make it as a return man, he has to erase any question. “I have one foot in right now,” he said. “If I take three or four back this year, it should be considered 80 percent chance of making it. But I am not really worried about it right now. I am really focused on this season. After this season, when all the stats add up, hopefully it won’t be a question.”

A ‘fresh’ approach for Hester

Seriously though, while us the viewers might have complaints about the decreasing value the Pro Bowl is to watch, Im sure there is a certain pride amongst players to get selected to the Pro Bowl and have that one more achievement on their football bucket list. I can understand his disappointment in making it even harder for certain positional players to earn a trip. 91devinhester23 says: Aug 1, 2013 9:03 AM he should be upset that he had an awful year last year sabrenation81 says: Aug 1, 2013 9:23 AM Its been pretty clear for a while now that Goodell has every intention of slowly removing the return game from football entirely. This is just the next step in the quest he started a year ago. Next year itll be another step towards making returners insignificant in the name of making the game safer. Im expecting something like automatic fair catch on punt returns as soon as a potential tackler gets within 10 yards or something equally asinine. blackandbluedivision says: Aug 1, 2013 9:23 AM Someone just realized his career is over. You shouldve learned how to play WR. Aug 1, 2013 9:26 AM Such BS because we all know where this is (source) heading mack2x says: Aug 1, 2013 9:28 AM I didnt believe the pro bowl could become a bigger joke than it already was. thegame2830 says: Aug 1, 2013 9:31 AM He should be upsethes made all his money in the NFL returning kicks..that means hes gotta put actual time and effort into a position he cant even playwhich of course is WR cuz we know he cant play CB. kd75 says: Aug 1, 2013 9:36 AM This is stupid.

Devin Hester’s return to returning long overdue

He played wide receiver from 2007 to 2012. But after Hester struggled on offense (23 receptions, 242 yards, one touchdown) and kick returns last season, new coach Marc Trestman is hoping to revitalize Hesters career by letting him do what he does best. Hester, who will turn 31 in November, has a lot to prove. And he knows it. I have to prove myself every year, he said. This is a league where only the best survive. I do feel like I am an elite player. I still have a lot left in the tank. For some of the guys that felt like I lost a step, its a burning fire thats under my foot to prove [it] to not only you guys [reporters], but my family as well.

Devin Hester hoping for a healthy return

Chicago added Brandon Marshall via trade prior to last season and drafted Alshon Jeffery in Round 2. Earl Bennett, if hes healthy, should regain his spot in the slot, too, so the Bears ideally do not even have reason to consider Hester at receiver. In the last season that Hester served exclusively as a return man, his rookie year of 2006, he totaled more than 1,100 return yards (including a league-leading 600 on punts) and scored five times. Last year, as he swapped in and out of the slot-receiver position, Hester mustered just 331 yards on punt returns, with a middling 8.3 average. Theres simply no value for the Bears in continuing to push Hester onto the field for passing downs. He dropped four of the 40 passes thrown his way last season, did not have a reception of longer than 40 yards and had the lowest yards-per-catch average of any Bear with more than two receptions.

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