Devin Hester

Hester's fancy footwork pays off in end

DETROIT -- From a special-teams perspective, it wasn't his best game by a long shot.

But it was all water under the dam when All-Pro return specialist Devin Hester solidified the Bears' 26-21 victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday at Ford Field.

On the game's final play, Lions quarterback Jon Kitna lofted a pass to 6-foot-5 receiver Mike Williams in the back of the end zone. Hester, who gives up six inches in height to Williams, managed to separate the Lions' 2005 first-round draft pick from the ball.

"Once there's a scramble, we're supposed to latch onto a player and that's what I did," said Hester, who comes in on defense at cornerback in passing situations. "I gave him a pull and actually kicked the ball. We went up at the same time. He got his hands on it, and I think at the same time I was able to kick at it and it fell out."

Hester prepares for more action

LAKE FOREST -- The Bears will proceed with caution when it comes to rookie return phenom Devin Hester.

Last Sunday they tried to expand his role with an offensive play in addition to more defensive duties due to injuries. During the game, he fumbled two punts and a kickoff and lost one fumble.

"It was exciting," Hester said about playing offense. "I'm hoping that another opportunity will come and like I said, I told (special teams) coach (Dave) Toub I'm a team ball player. Wherever he needs me to go that's where I'm going to go."

Devin Hester Update

The Bears were tight-lipped about Devin Hester's potential contributions on offense prior to Week 15, but the rookie sensation did see action on offense vs. the Bucs. He was thrown to once but did not come up with the catch. Chicago is hesitant to put too much on his plate, and he just recently added kick returns and is working hard at cornerback. Still, we hear it wouldn't take much to design a few basic packages that feature Hester on the offensive side of the ball. The Bears will likely revisit his long-term future more carefully this offseason, after he has put in a full season of work in the defensive backfield.


Offensive Hester a downer

CHICAGO -- Everyone wanted to see Devin Hester get more chances to carry the football.

On Sunday in the Bears' 34-31 overtime win over Tampa Bay, Hester might have had a few chances too many. The Bears' explosive rookie made a few exciting returns, but lost one critical fumble on a third-quarter kickoff return, fumbled but recovered on a fourth-quarter kickoff and fumbled a punt return out of bounds.

Hester also got his first chance to play offense -- coming in during the first quarter for one play at wide receiver. The throw went his way on a slant pass from Rex Grossman, but he was well covered and the ball fell to the turf.

Coverage Units Able To Contain Hester

CHICAGO - All week long, the Bucs relished the challenge of stopping Mr. Unstoppable, Chicago rookie Devin Hester.

Mission accomplished.

The former Miami Hurricanes standout already had set an NFL record with six returns for touchdowns, but a mistake-prone Hester was contained throughout Chicago's 34-31 OT victory.

"We think he's pretty good, but we think we're pretty good, too," Bucs special teams coach Rich Bisaccia said. "He deserves the respect, and he's an exciting player. I'm extremely proud of our entire team and we did our part."

Hester is on everyone's minds today

It's not often that the opponent's kick returner is the buzz in the locker room leading up to the game.

But this week Chicago return man Devin Hester has gotten the sort of attention in Tampa Bay's locker room usually reserved for quarterbacks or running backs.

That's what an NFL-record six returns for touchdowns will do for a rookie from the University of Miami.

Tampa Bay (3-10) faces Chicago (11-2) today and Hester will be under the spotlight. Hester returned two kickoffs for touchdowns on "Monday Night Football" six days ago, eliciting a litany of responses from Tampa Bay and Chicago players.

"This guy's fast as hell," Bucs head coach Jon Gruden said.

Hester connects with history - Gale Sayers says he's done well . . . so far

Gale Sayers gushed over Devin Hester for five minutes, marveling at how the Bears rookie set an NFL record in only 13 pro games. But Sayers tempered his praise when asked if Hester could be the greatest return man in team history.

Sayers still holds the team record with six career touchdowns on kickoff returns, although Hester -- in only one season -- is four away from tying that mark.

''The greatest was Muhammad Ali, if you want to define greatest,'' Sayers said. ''As for Hester, he's done great. But next year will tell how good he can be.

''He's caught people by surprise. But it's going to be more difficult that second year. Next year will tell how good he will be. And if he's doing it three years from now, then he can compare to Gale Sayers.''

Now, Bucs are targeting Hester

TAMPA -- The late second round of the NFL draft last spring showed how philosophy and decisions based on need can sometimes work against teams.

Instead of trying to move up a few spots for a shot at Devin Hester, the Tampa Bay Bucs stayed put and selected offensive tackle Jeremy Trueblood with the 59th overall pick.

The Chicago Bears, who had no first-round pick and no glaring needs, chose Hester, a cornerback / return specialist from the University of Miami, two picks before Trueblood

Hester in a class of his own

One thing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers do well is cover kickoffs. They are second in the league to Dallas. One reason the Bucs do well is they are the lowest-scoring team in the league, so they don't have to kick off very often.

That is one way to slow down Devin Hester. But even in a copycat league, not many coaches are likely to advise their teams: "Don't score."

There will be other strategies. Special teams coaches everywhere are staying up nights devising ways to keep Hester from putting them out of work. That means the Bears have to stay innovative too.

NFL by the Numbers - Devin Hester

2 ... Bears rookie Devin Hester has six combined kick returns for touchdowns in 13 games, not only establishing an NFL single-season record for combined kick returns for touchdowns but also putting him almost halfway to the NFL record of 13 career kick returns for TDs set over 14 years by Brian Mitchell. Hester, who had only returned two kickoffs in his life, is the sixth player in NFL history to return two for touchdowns in the same game.

Click Here for Full Picture.


Hester on offense is a no-brainer

Need I remind Lovie Smith that LaDainian Tomlinson, greatest runner since Sweetness, might reduce his suddenly vulnerable defense to a collage of spilled ketchup, used dental floss and shredded peat moss? Need I suggest the Chargers, Ravens and Bengals would beat the Bears in Super Bowl XLI? That his team might not survive possible back-to-back lakefront visits by Dallas and New Orleans in January?

Should I alert His Loveness that Dan Marino, Hall of Fame quarterback, still believes Rex Grossman must be on a short leash? Tell him the Bears did nothing more the other evening than pull away from a lowly opponent, one of nine losing teams they've played in a season in which their 16 foes currently have a collective 86-122 record? Should I nudge him about the injured list growing longer as the weather grows colder? Basically, doesn't he need all the help he possibly can muster as the playoffs approach? Shouldn't he be tapping every imaginable resource?

Yes, I think I need to have a talk with the man. Because Lovie is not thinking straight. If he were of the right mind, he wouldn't have spent Wednesday dropping this shocking bit of logic about America's newest sports conversation piece:

Devin Hester will NOT be used as an offensive weapon.

Bears’ Hester already getting jobs lined up

LAKE FOREST — If some company along the lines of Target or Wal-Mart were smart, they’d secure Devin Hester right now to be their post-holiday spokesman.

Imagine having Hester saying not only can you returns kicks fast, you can also return your gifts just as quickly at such and such a store.

By that point, that particular company would simply be standing in line itself. Hester, after setting an NFL record for scoring returns with six, already is being targeted for promotions.

“A telephone deal. Nike deals are starting to come around. Commercial shoots here and there,” he said Wednesday at Halas Hall.

Hester Named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week

Hester, the Special Teams Player of the Week, had a record-breaking performance in the Bears 42-27 win over the St. Louis Rams. The rookie returned two kickoffs for touchdowns and set the NFL single-season record with six touchdown returns. Hester scored his first touchdown of the game on a 94- yard return in the second quarter. In the fourth quarter, he took a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown to put the game out of reach.

This year, Hester has an NFL-record five combined kick-return touchdowns (three on punts, two on kickoffs) and tied the mark for the longest play in NFL history with a 108-yard touchdown return on a missed field goal. He leads the NFL with a 14.4-yard average.

In his rookie season, this is Hester's second consecutive Player of the Week Award and the third of his career. He is the first special teams player to earn the award in back-to-back weeks since 2004.


Hester wows all-time greats

By the time Billy ''White Shoes'' Johnson had returned to his suburban Atlanta home from his Bible study group Monday, the Bears-Rams game was into the second quarter.

He had just taken a seat in his living room when he saw rookie return sensation Devin Hester approach the wedge along the Bears' sideline.

''I was just getting comfortable when he hit that thing outside,'' said Johnson, an assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Atlanta Falcons. ''I said, 'Oh, gosh!' because he outran the angle, and it was over.

''It is great to be a feared man. I am sure he will tell you that.''

Neon Deion reveling in Hester's success

CHICAGO -- Devin Hester got close to the end zone and started to do a high-stepping strut the final few yards. It was a tribute - or as he called it a "shout out" - to his mentor, Deion Sanders.

Even the original "Prime Time" was shaking his head at the latest from Hester, who has an NFL-record six returns for touchdowns this season.

"It's sort of like I really can't believe, can't fathom," Sanders said Tuesday in a conference call.

Hester: Two for the book - Rookie returner burns Rams twice to break NFL record break

ST. LOUIS -- Just imagine how many touchdowns Devin Hester might have if he had been returning kickoffs all season.

The electric return man not only cemented his place in the Pro Bowl on Monday night, he carved out a space for his name in the NFL record books. Just don't be too quick to ink his new mark in, you might need an eraser because there are three games and who knows how many more returns left.

Hester torched the St. Louis Rams for two touchdowns, becoming the sixth player in league history with more than one in a single game. His 94-yard return in the first quarter answered the Rams' first touchdown, which Torry Holt scored on Hester. His second came with the hands team on the field and the Bears expecting an onside kick from Jeff Wilkins after St. Louis had pulled within 35-20 with more than seven minutes to play.

'Devin Can't Wait' a reel football classic

ST. LOUIS -- If a game could be reduced to watching Devin Hester nodding and talking to himself, bobbing his head while awaiting a kick that he can deliver to the house any time whatsoever, you'd have no worries. We are witnessing maybe the greatest returner ever, the most pulsating No. 23 in Chicago since You Know Who, and I am tempted to place him in a cocoon and forget about the rest of the Bears, including Rex Grossman.

''It looks like the gates of heaven just opening up for me,'' said Heaven Devin.

Call him unfriggin'believable. Call him the freak of freaks. Call him Gale Sayers, Deion Sanders, a miracle in stick-on eye black. Give him a nickname, too, like Billy (White Shoes) Johnson. All you need to know about Hester, as he returned two more kicks for touchdowns Monday night and blew away the NFL single-season record and every St. Louis ghost in his path, is that the normally humdrum Lovie Smith was boogeying down the sideline after his 96-yard sprint in the fourth quarter.


Rams marvel at Hester's ability as kick returner

Early in the second quarter Monday night, the Rams took a 6-0 lead over Chicago. Thirteen seconds later, the Bears were in front by a point.

Then midway through the final period, the Rams closed to a two-touchdown deficit, 35-20. Thirteen seconds later, the Bears had regained a 22-point cushion.

Instant production came in the form of record-setting rookie Devin Hester, a second-round draft pick out of Miami. His 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown erased the Rams' early lead; his 96-yard jaunt to the end zone snuffed the home team's late rally.

Hester role expected to expand

LAKE FOREST -- The idea of rookie return man Devin Hester returning the football in any way shape or form excites Bears coach Lovie Smith.

The idea of Hester playing cornerback, his position on the roster?

"I trust him a lot better as a punt returner," Smith admitted Friday, "but he's making a lot of progress. He's made a lot of progress about the last month.

"It's hard to see that progress when you don't get a chance to play. He's playing in (back) of three good football players."

NFL By The Numbers - Devin Hester

4 ... Devin Hester's 45-yard punt return for a touchdown in the Bears' win over the Vikings made him the first rookie in 39 years with four scoring returns in the kicking game in the same season. The last rookie to do so was Travis Williams of the Packers, who returned four kickoffs for touchdowns in 1967. Click Here To See Full Picture


Hester Named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week

Hester opened up the scoring in his club's 23-13 win over Minnesota with a 45-yard punt return for a touchdown in the second quarter. It was Hester's fourth return touchdown this season as the Bears clinched the NFC North with the win.

It is Hester's second career weekly award as the Miami-Florida product earned special teams honors in Week 10 as well.


NFL Rookie Watch Number 5, Devin Hester, PR, Bears

Hester leads the NFL with a 14.3-yard punt-return average and three punt returns for touchdowns. Last Sunday, his 45-yard punt return touchdown helped the Bears top the Vikings 23-13. With the offense sputtering, Hester is a life-saver in the Windy City. Click Here for full picture.

Hester's day is extra special

On a day when the weather and the Bears offense were equally brutal, Devin Hester was nothing short of sensational.

Returning both punts and kickoffs with equal aplomb, Hester provided ample amounts of excitement Sunday in sparking the Bears to a 23-13 win over the Minnesota Vikings at frigid Soldier Field.

Time and again, Hester brought the fans -- bundled up in the 20-degree weather at kickoff -- to their feet.

The most notable occasion came in the second quarter, when the rookie returned a punt 45 yards for a touchdown that jump-started the Bears toward victory and their second straight NFC North title.

Hester ties record to help Bears beat Vikings

CHICAGO, Dec 3 (Reuters) - Devin Hester tied an NFL record with his fourth touchdown return of the season to help the Chicago Bears beat the Minnesota Vikings 23-13 and clinch the NFC North Division title on Sunday.

Chicago (10-2) leads Minnesota by five games in the division with four games remaining and has a two-game lead atop the overall NFC standings.

Hester returned a punt 45 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter to open the scoring, breaking four tackles to scamper down the left side of the field and give Chicago a 7-0 lead.

Hester more than returner - Plays cornerback, when not scoring; offense in future?

Bears offensive coordinator Ron Turner would love to get his hands on rookie kick returner Devin Hester.

Vikings defenders could not get their hands on Hester when he stutter-stepped, juked and darted his way to a 45-yard punt return for the Bears' first touchdown in the second quarter of their 23-13 victory Sunday.

Hester has four kick returns for touchdowns this season, tying an NFL record. Asked if he has been lobbying to use Hester to help the Bears' struggling offense, Turner said with a knowing smile: "Not right now. We're just trying to get better and take care of our business. Who knows what's going to happen down the road? But he's obviously a great player."

Devin Hester - Cornerback/Punt return specialist, No. 23

Media guide musings: Drafted by the Bears in the second round of the 2006 draft out of Miami (Fla.). Returned a punt for a touchdown in NFL debut and game-winning punt return for touchdown against Arizona in Week 6. Tied NFL record for longest play with 108-yard field goal return Week 10 against the Giants. Majored in liberal arts at Miami, where he played offense (wide receiver, running back and fullback), defense (corner and nickel) and special teams (punt returns) during his career. Was 2005 Big East champion in the indoor long jump. Was All-American track athlete in high school.

Vitals: 5 feet 11 inches, 196 pounds

Favorite pro team growing up: "I used to like the Cowboys back in '95, but after that it was just certain players. I just liked players, I didn't have a favorite team."

College team growing up: "Florida when they had Fred Taylor."

So was it weird going to Miami if you were a Florida fan? "It was pretty crazy 'cause I got an offer from Florida and I turned 'em down instantly. I kinda [leaned toward] Miami toward the end of my senior year [in high school], so that's where my heart was into going."

Hester providing many happy returns in Chicago

CHICAGO — Coming into the NFL Draft last spring, Devin Hester was considered a man without a position. So far, he hasn't needed one.
The Chicago Bears rookie, who played wide receiver and cornerback at the University of Miami, is doing what he was drafted to do — put electricity into the return game.

With five games remaining, Hester is one touchdown shy of tying the NFL record for special-teams scores by a rookie, and he is expected to receive more opportunities down the stretch.

His three TD returns — two on punts and the NFL record-tying 108-yard return of a missed New York Giants field goal Nov. 12 — put him behind only Jack Christiansen of Detroit (1951) and Travis Williams of Green Bay (1967) on the all-time rookie TD list for special teams. (Christiansen's were all punt returns and Williams' kickoffs.)

Special feeling? Bears' Hester has it

Staying after practice on Friday to put in extra work, Bears punt returner Devin Hester spun around in circles before fielding footballs.

He wasn't perfecting a new move. Hester was just trying to prepare for Sunday's game in Foxborough, Mass., against the New England Patriots, who signed Ken Walter on Friday to replace injured punter Josh Miller.

"We've got a punter we're facing this week that hasn't played in about two years, so we don't have any film on him," Hester said. "So out here today, we're just trying to get punts all kinds of ways, just different types of punts, just get used to it, and just be ready for it when game time comes."

Early investment returns - Hester has raced to head of the class among Bears rookies

When Bears rookie return specialist Devin Hester scored last Sunday on a 108-yard return of a missed field goal against the New York Giants -- tying teammate Nathan Vasher's NFL record -- the loudest cheers came from his rookie teammates Danieal Manning and Mark Anderson.

''We rookies made a pact in preseason to be the best rookie class the Bears ever had,'' Manning said.

That's a lofty goal, considering the Bears drafted Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers in 1965 and their '83 class included Richard Dent, Jim Covert and Willie Gault.

Ready for takeoff - Bears' Hester seeks consistency

LAKE FOREST | Funny, but Devin Hester doesn't look like one of pro football's most feared weapons.

The Bears rookie, wearing sweats and with his hoodie pulled up after a chilly practice, is barely noticeable at 5-foot-11. And quiet? Like a deserted street. But check his return stats and they scream DANGEROUS! from the rooftops.

Bears may challenge Hester to dual (role) - Rookie specialist also would run back kickoffs, writes Don Pierson

Devin Hester is having a ball. Now if he just had the ball more often. The Bears are thinking about letting him return kickoffs for Sunday's encore at the Meadowlands.

"We'll try to get his hands on the ball as much as possible," coach Lovie Smith said. "That will basically be with the return game."

Except for two kickoff returns this season, Hester has been limited to punt returns. But by taking that short field-goal attempt against the Giants back 108 yards, he apparently passed a test. He's ready for extended duty. After all, a missed field goal looks like a kickoff.

Fame game: Hall eyes piece of Hester

Devin Hester appreciates the honors. Well, sort of.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame called the Bears on Wednesday to ask for a Hester "artifact" from his record-tying 108-yard return of a missed New York Giants field goal.
The Hall received the orange jersey Nathan Vasher wore when he performed the feat last year, but Hester isn't sure he would like his uniform enshrined next to his teammate's.

"The jersey from Sunday?" asked Hester, whose feat and feet earned him the distinction of being NFC special teams player of the week. "I'd hate to give that one up. Could they just take any of my jerseys?"


Bears' Hester amazing

LAKE FOREST -- Since making his 108-yard touchdown return with a missed field goal, Bears rookie Devin Hester has been fielding more phone calls than practice punts.

Old coaches have called with congratulations. Deion Sanders -- his mentor -- and family members have called warning him to maintain focus amid all the accolades. And then there are the other calls.

"A lot of times old friends that I had crushes on in high school are starting to call me now," Hester said. "It's crazy."

Hester leads NFC weekly honors

NEW YORK, Nov. 15 (UPI) -- Chicago's Devin Hester, who tied an NFL record with a 108-yard return, was selected the NFC's special teams player of the week.


Hester's joy mixes with thoughts of slain pal Pata

In the hours immediately after Devin Hester's historic 108-yard field-goal return for a touchdown Sunday night against the Giants, his mind raced even faster than his legs.

But between thoughts of NFL immortality and the possibility of playing in a Super Bowl near his hometown of Miami, Hester paused to remember a friend.

Magic man pulls a fast one - Rookie equals Vasher's record return

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- One hundred eight yards and a cloud of dust!

Yes, the favorite play in the Bears' playbook is back.

Don't go telling Devin Hester that a football field is supposed to be 100 yards long.

The rookie did the same thing Sunday night to the New York Giants that teammate Nathan Vasher did to the San Francisco 49ers last Nov. 13—yes, a year ago this very day—when he returned a missed field goal 108 yards for a touchdown.

Hester just can’t hang on

Devin Hester is a threat to break a long run every time he catches a punt for the Bears.

But he has to catch it first.

In a game in which nothing went right for the Bears, it is unseemly to extract one play for special examination.

But Hester’s inability to corral a second-quarter punt gave the visiting Miami Dolphins the field position they needed to move in for their first touchdown en route to a 31-13 victory Sunday at Soldier Field.

Err-muffs: Hester eyes improvement

Devin Hester appeared to have happy feet trying to return punts Sunday. And the rookie speedster was anything but happy about his botched attempts to secure the football against the Dolphins.

With the Dolphins trailing 3-0 in the second quarter, Donnie Jones punted 47 yards to the Bears' 6-yard line. Hester muffed the catch, and the ball was recovered by Miami's Eddie Jackson. Three plays later, Joey Harrington hooked up with Marty Booker for a 5-yard touchdown pass and the Dolphins never trailed thereafter.

Devin Hester Update

The Devin Hester-for-offense push remains on hold with the passing offense averaging 7.4 yards every time it gets a pass away. The Bears are completing 60.8 percent of their passes. Bernard Berrian, Desmond Clark and Rashied Davis are averaging 15 yards or more per catch, and Muhsin Muhammad leads the Bears with 32 catches.

"There's always thoughts," Smith said of the prospect of getting Hester more touches. "Of course, if you ask Moose, he'd say we have enough weapons over there right now. So right now we're going to stay the way we are."


Hester rates as an elite returner

LAKE FOREST -- Bears rookie punt returner Devin Hester flashed a big grin at the thought of the performance he'd given in Monday night's 24-23 comeback win over the Arizona Cardinals.

His reaction had nothing to do with a certain 83-yard, fourth-quarter punt return for the game-winning touchdown. Instead, he was thinking about his effort on six or seven defensive plays that defensive backs coach Steve Wilks put him in for when the injury-depleted secondary started to tire.

"I checked my grade sheet this week, and I graded out at 100 percent, so that's pretty good," Hester said. "I usually grade out about 74 or 75, so I'm just trying to go day in and day out and just try to get better at each and everything I do individually."

Many happy returns ahead? Hester speeding toward prominence

Recalling his performance in the Bears' come-from-behind 24-23 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Monday night prompted Devin Hester to flash a big grin.

The Bear rookie's expression had nothing to do with a certain 83-yard punt return in the fourth quarter that went for the game-winning touchdown. Instead, he was thinking about his effort on six or seven defensive plays that defensive backs coach Steve Wilks put him in for when the injury-depleted secondary started to tire.

"I checked my grade sheet this week, and I graded out at 100 percent, so that's pretty good," Hester said. "I usually grade out about 74 or 75, so I'm just trying to go day in and day out and just try to get better at each and every thing I do individually."

Bears’ Hester leads NFL in punt-return average

Bears rookie Devin Hester’s game-winning, 83-yard punt return for touchdown Monday night against the Arizona Cardinals vaulted him to the No. 1 spot in the NFL with a 13.6-yard punt-return average.

Hester’s 367 yards on punt returns are 200 more than the Chiefs’ Dante Hall, who ranks second.

Hester, a former Miami Hurricane, said his big return was designed to go to the right, but he made an adjustment that the Cardinals didn’t counter.

“When they saw my first step was going right, it seemed like the defense just took off (in that direction),” Hester said. “When I cut it back, I was watching them (on tape), they were still going right, they weren’t paying attention to me, so I knew that it was going to give me a great chance to get into the end zone.”

Hester's punt return had Cardinals seeing red

It's the isolation play of punt returns. There was nothing really fancy about Devin Hester's 83-yard return Monday night that shocked the Arizona Cardinals and made the Bears a 24-23 winner in one of the wildest comebacks in recent history. The only thing special is Hester's dynamic ability in the open field, where the Cardinals barely laid a hand on him.

Special-teams coordinator
Dave Toub told Hester before the kick, ''This is the one.'' The play is called ''six box red,'' and it's the same one Hester scored on in Week 1 at Green Bay. It calls for six players in the box near the ball at the line of scrimmage, a double team on each outside gunner and some shifty work by Hester. Red means the play is designed to go right, and Toub picked that direction after calling left returns earlier in the game.

Hester stops dancing, breaks off winning return

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The name of the return is Six Box Red. That means six players are on the line of scrimmage with double on each gunner. Red means right.

The rest is up to Devin Hester, who broke an 83-yard punt return for a touchdown on Monday night that provided the game-winning points in an unlikely 24-23
Bears victory over the Arizona Cardinals. Hester broke an 84-yard touchdown on the same return in the season-opener against Green Bay.

''Everybody blocked for me,'' Hester said. ''It was the right time and I give all the credit to my teammates who were out on the field with me and set up the blocks for me that allowed me to get in the end zone.''

Big-play Hester strikes again - Rookie answers call, takes punt back 83 yards for winning TD

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- No sweat.

Rookie speedster Devin Hester keyed a furious fourth-quarter Bears comeback with a daring 83-yard punt return for a touchdown and a 24-23 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Monday night.

Trailing 20-0 at the half and 23-10 after three quarters, the Bears tallied fourth-quarter touchdowns on a 40-yard fumble return by Charles Tillman with five minutes left and Hester's heroics with 2:58 remaining.

"Basically, everybody blocked," Hester said. "When I went out on the field, all of my teammates said, 'We need a big play.' It was the right time,and I give all the credit to my teammates. They set up the blocks for me and got me into the end zone."

Devin Hester Update

The sky is falling: Thursday morning was the first time Bears rookie Devin Hester has seen snow in person, and he was a little freaked out.

“I need to thicken up my blood or something,” said Hester, who was bundled up like an Arctic explorer until coach Lovie Smith moved practice inside the Walter Payton Center.

Hester is from Riviera Beach, Fla., and played for the University of Miami Hurricanes.

Devin Hester Update

We all know Devin Hester's talent level playing on special teams. How is he progressing during practice as a defensive back? I'm thinking that a couple of years in the future, he could hopefully be a good nickel back like Ricky Manning Jr. Your insight is greatly appreciated. --Joe Kaberlein, Germantown, Wis.

That's a reasonable timeframe. Hester actually plans on becoming much more than a good nickel back –- he has designs on developing into a lock-down corner in the mold of his mentor, Deion Sanders. But right now, expecting much out of Hester in the way of defensive contributions might be asking too much. It was telling that when asked about the Bears' plans if Ricky Manning Jr. receives the expected suspension that Smith responded by saying safety Todd Johnson would be inserted as the fifth defensive back and Danieal Manning would slide up to play the slot man. That's a compliment to Johnson but also an indication that Hester is not at the point yet where the coaches trust him in the secondary. Or else he would have been the ideal replacement as the corner to fill in for Manning Jr. That should come, with experience and recognition. It's not a physical issue with Hester -- he is the quickest Bear. But playing defensive back goes well beyond athleticism and those nuances are what Hester still needs time to understand.


Devin Hester Update

Bears special-teams ace Devin Hester has looked increasingly shaky since his 84-yard punt return for a TD in Week 1, capped off by three muffs in Week 4. We're told the rookie was working overtime in practice every day last week, although the team is much less concerned about his hands than they are his judgment concerning which punts to field.

Rookie Hester still has coaches' confidence

LAKE FOREST -- After a fast start, Bears punt returner Devin Hester has cooled down to the point where coach Lovie Smith acknowledged his struggles in Sunday's game on Monday at Halas Hall.

"Devin Hester had a few problems returning punts," Smith said after Hester muffed three punts that were all recovered by the Bears Sunday night against Seattle. "If you have a rookie, you'll go through a game like that. He'll come back. He's a good football player.

"He had one good return. The 26-yard return was big for us."

Hester glowing like neon

It was the phone call every kid dreams of receiving. Your childhood idol, the guy upon whom you try to base your own career, does a little legwork to get your digits and dials you up.

That's what happened to Devin Hester when he was a sophomore at Miami. In a nationally televised game against Louisville, Hester returned a kickoff 100 yards, only to have the touchdown erased by penalty. He scored on a 78-yard punt return and set up the winning score in a 41-38 victory with a 34-yard kickoff return in which he covered twice as much ground zigzagging across the field.

Pilot episode is prime-time - Possibilities endless as Hester uses incredible instincts to get big results

Of all the instinctive, unpredictable moves Devin Hester has become known for making, Tamara James knows her favorite. Hester made it June 6, 2005, in Miami, and the impact caused James to buckle at the knees like someone covering one of Hester's punt returns. Together they had gone to Game 7 of the Miami Heat-Detroit Pistons NBA playoff series at Miami Arena, a hot ticket but the place to be for the University of Miami's hottest couple.

Hester, the Bears' electric rookie punt returner, was entering his final season as a Hurricane football player, and James, a member of the WNBA's Washington Mystics, eventually would leave Coral Gables as the school's career scoring leader.

Bears rookie Hester hoping for return on his investmen

CHICAGO - Of all the instinctive, unpredictable moves Devin Hester has become known for making, Tamara James knows her favorite. Hester made it June 6, 2005, in Miami, and the impact caused James to buckle at the knees like someone covering one of Hester's punt returns.

Together they had gone to Game 7 of the Miami Heat-Detroit Pistons NBA playoff series at Miami Arena, a hot ticket but the place to be for the University of Miami's hottest couple.

Hester, the Bears' electric rookie punt returner, was entering his final season as a Hurricane football player, and James, a member of the WNBA's Washington Mystics, eventually would leave Coral Gables as the school's career scoring leader.

Mark Craig: What's a game-breaker worth? Bears got a steal with 57th pick

GREEN BAY, WIS. - Another defining moment in the evolution of the specialized player in the NFL arrived at Halas Hall on the first day of this year's draft.

In need of offensive help, the Chicago Bears already had traded out of the first round, selected safety Danieal Manning 42nd overall and were on the clock with the 57th pick.

Without hesitation, General Manager Jerry Angelo and coach Lovie Smith decided the University of Miami's Devin Hester was worthy of a second-round pick, even though no one within the organization knew whether Hester could play offense or defense, or neither.

"Initially, I thought if only he would be our [punt] returner, that would be plenty," Smith said. "He's as good as anyone I saw returning the football."

Hester gets the call from 'Prime Time'

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Devin Hester picked up his cell phone after the Bears' season-opening 26-0 win over the Green Bay Packers and the message from one Deion "Prime Time" Sanders read, "call me."

Hester, who is good friends with Sanders, gave a good "Prime Time" impression himself on Sunday afternoon by breaking an 84-yard fourth-quarter punt return for a touchdown on a day when Bears special teams dominated.

"I saw daylight," Hester said of the return. "I don't think there was a defender in front of me. My teammates, they just cleared everything out. It was a straight-forward run."

On his return, Hester displayed the type of speed he showed in running a 4.3-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine prior to being chosen in the second round of the draft draft.

"Initially, I thought if he would only just be our returner that was plenty right away because he was as good as anyone I saw return the football," coach Lovie Smith said. "And from there, we had to make a decision on whether he would play defensive back or wide receiver.

Devin Hester Update

Rookie Devin Hester still hasn't found a permanent position, but the second-round draft choice from the University of Miami will be Chicago's punt returner on Sunday against Green Bay. . . .

A jack-of-all-trades with UM, Hester has worked at cornerback during the preseason but isn't considered a serious contender for playing time in Chicago's secondary. Hester, though, is getting overtures from Bears offensive coordinator Ron Turner and QB Rex Grossman about making the conversion to wide receiver after averaging 22.8 yards on six preseason returns.

"Grossman tells me, `You're in the wrong spot,"" Hester told the Chicago Tribune. . .

Punt return job all Hester's

With other players sweating out final cuts, rookie Devin Hester is secure in the knowledge he has won the Bears' punt return job.

"He has caught the ball extremely well, made good decisions," coach Lovie Smith said. "Except for the first game, he has been outstanding back there. He's a weapon. He's getting closer and closer to breaking one."

Hester valuable in all phases

CLEVELAND — Devin Hester provided food for thought, but does this every time he flashes his Olympic-type speed while breaking a long return.

The Bears' rookie second-round draft pick made a 54-yard punt return to set up the first-team offense's only touchdown of preseason. Afterward coach Lovie Smith admitted some within the organization wouldn't mind seeing the former Miami player's speed put to use on offense instead of — or in addition to — returns and cornerback.

"Ron Turner and the offensive guys are in my ear quite a bit, I'll say about that, along with others," Smith said of his offensive coordinator. "Right now, with him being a rookie coming in, we just wanted to do a few things and he's making progress at the cornerback position.

"But initially, the plan for him is to initially be our returner."

Punt return job all Hester's

With other players sweating out final cuts, rookie Devin Hester is secure in the knowledge he has won the Bears' punt return job.

"He has caught the ball extremely well, made good decisions," coach
Lovie Smith said. "Except for the first game, he has been outstanding back there. He's a weapon. He's getting closer and closer to breaking one."

Early returns all positive for Bears special teams

LAKE FOREST, Ill. - If the first two preseason games are any indication, the Bears could have one of the most productive special teams units in the NFL this season.
Kick returner Rashied Davis, punt returner Devin Hester and punters Brad Maynard and Joel Stelly all rank near the top of the league in their respective categories.