Devin Hester

Tillman’s a hit with Hester

BOURBONNAIS — Charles Tillman is a physical cornerback, even in training-camp practices, which can sometimes rub a teammate the wrong way.

But if the 6-foot-1, 196-pound Tillman occasionally roughs up 5-foot-11, 186-pound wide receiver Devin Hester, it’s only helping him transition to his new position.

“When I feel my opponent wants to get physical, I’m the type of player that (says), ‘Let’s play physical,’” Hester said. “If you want to play this type of game, I can play right along with you. That’s the type of player I am.

“I’m out here trying to get better, and I know Charles Tillman is one of the great players on our defense and he’s an aggressive corner. You know when you go against him you’re going to have to fasten up your chinstrap and get ready to play football.”

Hester knows he’s going to face similar strong-arm tactics during the season as opponents try to jam him at the line of scrimmage and neutralize his ability to stretch the field.

Hester Watch

For all the hype that converted wide receiver Devin Hester has created in camp, his debut on offense went quietly. He was in for only one play with the first team, a handoff to Cedric Benson. He played more with backup Brian Griese and caught his first pass in the second quarter, a 12-yard gain. He also was used as a decoy on a fake end-around when Griese handed off to Adrian Peterson.

(suntimes.com)

Devin Hester Update

Devin Hester is making fans utter such expressions of admiration as "ooh" and "aah." However, he's been bugged by a hamstring, and David Haugh recently issued the following warning: "Remember, Hester didn't return kickoffs full-time last year until the 12th game of the season against Minnesota so he could focus solely on punt returns. Now he has three jobs. He might do them all exceptionally well. But if the added responsibilities and attention start to affect Hester physically or mentally, the Bears eventually could decide it makes sense for him to give one up. That's not part of the discussion yet but good to remember as the hype around Hester continues to snowball."

(chicagosports.chicagotribune.com)

Bears' Hester looks to provide big returns on offense

(AP) BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- The recruiting started a year ago, and all Devin Hester wanted to do was sprint the other way.

In the end, he couldn't outrun the call to offense.

The Chicago Bears' special teams standout will see time at wide receiver after setting and tying several return records as a rookie last season. The list includes a league-record six touchdowns -- one of which was a missed field goal he ran back 108 yards. Now, the Bears are easing Hester in on offense -- a move he was reluctant to make.

"I give all the credit to coach Lovie Smith," he said. "He's the guy who opened up my eyes and let me know that it's a position I could succeed a lot at."

Hester's fast start hits a speed bump

BOURBONNAIS -- Suddenly, Devin Hester doesn't look so invincible.

When the Bears opened training camp last week, Hester was nearly perfect in making the transition from defensive back to wide receiver. But a right hamstring injury has slowed the second-year man and kept him out of practice the last two days. If the injury persists, the Bears' plan to use his explosiveness in a variety of ways could be affected.

Coach Lovie Smith, who initially downplayed Hester's injury, expressed a bit more concern after Thursday's practice.
"It's a concern the first day he missed," Smith said. "But beyond that, that's how training camp goes, especially with skill guys. You look across the league, just about every team has a guy who is dealing with some things like that. When they get a little sore, you let them sit out for a while." Although not visibly upset, Hester expressed a strong desire to return to practice. He quickly has become one of the team's top offensive threats because he can line up in so many different places. Plus he already has established himself as perhaps the best return man in the league.

Big strides for humble Hester

BOURBONNAIS — With Devin Hester rapidly approaching rock-star status, there could be concerns that the 24-year-old won’t be able to keep a level head or stay focused.

Not to worry.

Celebrity and hero worship on the football field are nothing new to Mr. Excitement, who is making fans attending training-camp practices at Olivet Nazarene University sit up and take notice every time he lines up at his new position of wide receiver.

At Suncoast High School in Riviera Beach, Fla., Hester was the top-rated recruit in one of the nation’s top producers of football talent, and he was the consensus top defensive back in the country.

Bears’ Hester could be mayor of Bourbonnais

RECEIVING LOVE: Bears fans are flocking to Bourbonnais in huge numbers, and the one guy they seem to love the most is Devin Hester.
And what’s not to love?

While returning an NFL-record six kicks for touchdowns last season (and another in the Super Bowl), he was the most exciting rookie athlete to hit Chicago since Michael Jordan. And now, coach Lovie Smith wisely has turned Hester over to offensive coordinator Ron Turner, who so far in training camp is having fun getting the ultra-quick kid.

Hester is lining up in the slot and catching slant passes. He’s lining up wide and beating defensive backs deep. He’s running reverses. Can Hester pass the football?

I’m guessing Turner will find out before the Bears break camp.

Meanwhile, every time Devin touches the football, the fans go wild. During Saturday night’s practice at Ward Field on the Olivet Nazarene campus, Hester actually made a grab while sitting on his keister after slipping. The ensuing ovation was so loud one would have thought he had ridden Evel Knievel’s motorcycle through a ring of fire.

The previous day, he caught a short pass and then juked out safety Mike Brown, who could only shrug and shake his head. That drew cheers and laughter from the crowd.

Don’t worry, folks. Hester is still fielding lots of punts and kickoffs. He knows where his bread is buttered. So does Lovie Smith.

(sj-r.com)

Hester off to fast start in new position

BOURBONNAIS -- Bears offensive coordinator Ron Turner watched another strong practice performance by converted wide receiver Devin Hester, then pondered the question whether he's ever had someone so quick in his offense.

"Maybe one time. I had a guy in an all-star game, the Blue-Gray Game, a guy named Steve Smith," Turner said about the Carolina Panthers star. "Maybe Steve Smith. That might be about the only guy.

"I didn't know much about Steve Smith and I saw him catch a pass in that game, a 10-yard hook. He caught it; the next thing I knew it was an 80-yard touchdown. I said, 'Whoa.' I hadn't seen anything like that before. But (Hester has) got the same kind of explosiveness."

Hester catching on quickly as receiver

Bears offensive coordinator Ron Turner watched another strong practice performance by converted wide receiver Devin Hester, then pondered a question about whether he's ever had someone so quick in his offense.

"Maybe one time. I had a guy in an all-star game, the Blue-Gray game, a guy named Steve Smith," Turner said about the Carolina Panthers star. "Maybe Steve Smith. That might be about the only guy.

"I didn't know much about Steve Smith, and I saw him catch a pass in that game, a 10-yard hook. He caught it; the next thing I knew, it was an 80-yard touchdown. I said, 'Whoa.' I hadn't seen anything like that before. But he's (Hester) got the same kind of explosiveness."

Hester caught a few more short passes and broke them Saturday morning. He also displayed a knack for running sharp sideline routes and showed good hands on a well-executed, 12-yard square-out.

Hester takes home an ESPY.

Devin Hester of the Chicago Bears won an ESPY award in Los Angeles last night (Wednesday). Hester walked away with the breakthrough athlete award at the show honoring the year's best sports moments and athletes at Hollywood's Kodak Theatre. Hester set an N-F-L record last year for kick returns for touchdowns, and he started off the Super Bowl with a 92-yard kickoff runback for a touchdown. The ESPY Awards air Sunday at eight p-m central time on E-S-P-N.

(wjbdradio.com)

Devin Hester Update

1. Their offense added one of the NFL's most explosive players.

Devin Hester lined up at running back and wide receiver throughout OTAs and never looked unnatural or awkward. He immediately gives the Bears an element of unpredictability they didn't have in 2006.

And despite all the documented evidence that will be offered to suggest adding receiver duties will hurt Hester's return game, a dropoff from six regular-season returns for touchdowns was inevitable anyway.

(chicagotribune.com)

Devin Hester Update

Devin Hester’s IQ. Hester, the dynamic return man, reportedly has  trouble digesting nuances in the playbook.

(nwherald.com)

Hester nears liftoff - Ex-defensive back getting a kick out of switch to offense

Devin Hester can't contain his enthusiasm. His defensive teammates can't contain Hester.

The scene is all so reminiscent of last season, when opposing teams could only watch helplessly as Hester juked and sprinted past them for an NFL-record six kick returns for touchdowns during his Pro Bowl rookie campaign.

For an encore this season, Hester also is lining up from scrimmage as a wide receiver during the Bears' organized team activities in Lake Forest.

One of Hester's favorite plays is when he deceives the defense on fakes.

"That's the fun part about it," Hester said with a huge smile and a giggle after Wednesday's workout.

Hester looks great

The experiment never worked at the U. of Miami, but Chicago’s super return man, Devin Hester, looked like a natural at receiver in recent mini-camp work. The first two days of camp, he didn’t drop a pass. He ran solid, crisp routes and, basically, had his teammates and coaches raving about him.

Give head coach Lovie Smith high marks for convincing Hester to junk cornerback for being a wide receiver.

“It was more exciting than I really thought it would be,” Hester said. “Whenever a player gets his hands on the ball and knows what he can do with it, it's a lot of fun.”

After the catch, Hester routinely made players miss. The new dimension should be great for Rex Grossman and also alleviate the frustration that Hester, who returned six kicks for touchdowns last season, will face when punters and kickers kick away from during the season. The Bears needed to find a way for Hester to get more touches.

On kickoffs, Hester will be paired with safety Danieal Manning, former college kickoff specialist, in hopes they can form a 1-2 punch. He will still wear No. 23 and be listed as a running back/receiver.

(foxsports.com)

Who's Hot? Devin Hester

The Bears couldn't be happier with Hester's transition from cornerback. He is proving to be a good route runner, sure-handed, and, after the catch, he has made defenders miss. Chicago is satisfied it has found a new weapon.

(star-telegram.com)

History not working in Hester's favor

There is already so much hype surrounding the transition of Chicago Bears kick returner Devin Hester into an offensive player that I'm hoping he lives up to the expectations.

The real question, however, isn't whether Hester can make a significant contribution on that side of the football. It's whether he'll still be able to produce those breathtaking returns that made him a Pro Bowler during his rookie season in the NFL. After all, it's hard enough to be an electrifying return man in this league. To do it year after year, well, that's proven to be fairly difficult for most players.

This isn't to knock Hester, who scored an NFL-record six return touchdowns in 2006. It's just a fact. Returning kicks takes guts and guile, and recent history really hasn't been very kind to players who make their names with that specialty. In today's NFL, anything can hamper a return man's dominance, whether it's the loss of a couple key blockers, the departure of a special-teams coach, or in the case of Hester, outright fear by opponents.

"The opportunities for me probably aren't going to be what they were last season because teams know me now," Hester says. "It's tough for good returners because you can go from having 30 to 40 returns one season to 15 or 20 the next. That's a big part of why guys don't keep putting up the same numbers."

Hester begins transition

bilde
LAKE FOREST — Devin Hester’s former “brothers” keep telling him what he can’t do.

“You’ve got no routes. You can’t do this. You can’t do that. We can run with you. Stuff like that. We’re just teasing him,” Bears cornerback Ricky Manning Jr. explained.

“There’s a lot of joking around, because I played DB,” Hester said as his conversion from a defensive back to wide receiver began Friday at the Bears first minicamp of 2007. The minicamp finished Sunday.

“Those guys are great guys,” Hester continued. “I spent a whole year with them and had a lot of fun. It’s like a brotherly challenge. Everyone wants to go against me as a DB.”

You know it’s a tease, because the Bears seem to think there is nothing Hester can’t do after he returned an NFL-record six kicks for touchdowns as a rookie. He added a seventh with the opening kickoff of the Super Bowl.

Smith's diplomacy hooked Hester - Coach gradually sold move to offense

29918600
Lovie Smith can order players to do pretty much whatever he deems important for football. But when he decided Devin Hester could help the Bears more on offense than defense, he knew the move would go better if Hester bought into it.

The coach didn't want to force Hester, whose mentor and football idol is former cornerback/returner Deion Sanders, to give up being a defensive back.

So Smith started making "suggestions" to Hester over the last two months.

"It went from once a month to once a week to every day," Hester said, laughing. "So I said, 'There's no 'I' in team,' and if the head coach thinks it's going to be better for the team …

Bears to give Hester a look at wide receiver

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (May 14, 2007) -- Devin Hester is taking his game-breaking skills to the Chicago Bears' offense.

Hester set an NFL record last year for kick returns for touchdowns, and he started off the Super Bowl with a 92-yard kickoff runback for a touchdown. He rarely played on anything but special teams, though, and when he did, it was as a cornerback.

Now, the Bears will try him as a wide receiver.

Coach Lovie Smith said the All-Pro return specialist will make the switch beginning with the upcoming minicamp.

"I think Devin Hester is one of the most exciting players in the NFL with his hands on the football," Smith told ChicagoBears.com. "I think he would be an excellent defensive back, also. We just feel that this is in the best interest of us and him for him to achieve his full potential as a football player."

Hester will now catch them if he can - Potential upside huge, but Bears need to keep it simple for it to work

See defender. Run past him. Catch the ball.

Celebrate.

If the instructions for new Bears wide receiver Devin Hester are much more complicated than that, the team risks turning a necessary position switch into a failed experiment.

Don't issue Hester an offensive playbook. Give him a cocktail napkin with doodles. The simpler it is for Hester the harder it will be for opposing defenses to stop one of the fastest players in the league.

"There are only a few guys in the league who can make people miss and do the things [Hester] can do with the football," coach Lovie Smith said.

Rex Grossman Gets Another Weapon: Devin Hester

It was only a matter of time, I guess. After six special teams touchdowns his rookie season, Devin Hester -- a man without a true position -- will be joining the offense. Hester was listed as a cornerback at the University of Miami, but that's not why the Bears selected him in the second round of the 2006 draft. Whatever, he's taking his skillz to the other side of the ball:

Hester will work with the wide receivers at minicamp, but he's also expected to line up in the backfield at times and could be utilized like the New Orleans Saints' Reggie Bush.

Well, Chicago could utilize him like Reggie Bush, but I'm pretty sure that'll be where the comparisons end. I'm envisioning more of an Antwaan Randle El-type role. Whatever, I think it's a good idea. Hester is obviously a scoring threat, and if nothing else, he'll take some of the pressure of Rex Grossman. Which reminds me, maybe Hester can line up at quarterback for a few snaps every game too. It couldn't hurt.

(nfl.aolsportsblog.com)

Hester Madden Commercial

Kreutz, Hester win Piccolo Award

The Bears on Thursday announced center Olin Kreutz and return specialist Devin Hester as the winners of the Brian Piccolo Award for the 2006 season.

The award, voted on by teammates, goes to a veteran and a rookie who “best exemplify the courage, loyalty, teamwork, dedication and sense of humor of the late Brian Piccolo.”

Kreutz, who also won the award for 2003 and 2004, is the only player to receive the honor more than once as a veteran. Left tackle John Tait is the only other player to win it in the last four years.

(nwherald.com)

Hester is Perfectly Fast

The Bears may not have won the Super Bowl this year, but maybe fans can take some pride in being the home to the most perfectly fast man in the NFL, ever.

The essential football video game, Madden '08, will feature the Bear's All-Pro Devin Hester as the first player to ever receive a perfect 100 in the speed category (maybe in any category, but we can't find any support for that).

Deion Sanders, Randy Moss, and Charles Woodson all received the meager rating of 99, a full point less than Hester's blazing digital speed. Supposedly, Hester has been lobbying for the increase, but at least he acted surprised when it was announced, saying, "That's just about the best thing you could have told me. It's an honor -- I don't know what to say, really."

Luckily, no Bear player will grace the cover of the game, thus allowing one less team in Chicago to blame losing the big one on a curse (See: The Madden Cover Curse)

(chicagoist.com)

Hester's Pearl

HESTER’S PEARL: In this year’s Super Bowl, Chicago Bears cornerback Devin Hester took the opening kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown. He set an NFL record with six touchdown returns during the regular season. But he may be receiving the ultimate honor when “Madden NFL 08” comes out: He’s the first player awarded a perfect 100 speed rating.

Hester’s 100 elevates him above such legendary speedsters as Deion Sanders and Randy Moss. “That’s just about the best thing you could have told me,” he told ESPN.com. “It’s an honor.”

(nwherald.com)

Hester Sings Take Me Out To The Ballgame"

Hester Throws out First Pitch 7 Sings "Take Me Out to the Ballgame"

Bear down: Throwing out the ceremonial first pitch was Bears' special teams ace Devin Hester, who had an NFL-record six return touchdowns last season.

Wearing a Cubs jersey with his name stenciled on the back, Hester also was guest conductor for "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" during the seventh-inning stretch. Joining him on the field was Bears coach Lovie Smith.

"I was only a little worried," Hester said. "The pitching part is more athletic, but the singing part is all vocal and you gotta know the words. But Chicago fans are the greatest and if I could tell 'em to their faces, I'd let 'em know they're the spark of my life."

(nwitimes.com)

The More Devin Hester, the Better

In just one season in the NFL, Devin Hester has become a household name. His explosiveness and blazing speed have broken many a game wide open – just ask the Arizona Cardinals – and his penchant for finding the end zone gives heartburn to opposing coaches. Bears’ fans are itching to see more of their All-Pro return man next season, and Lovie Smith feels the same way.

“You could argue that he’s the most exciting player in the NFL with his hands on the ball,” Smith says.

Dilemma:

“Exciting” may be an understatement. After setting an NFL regular-season record with 6 returns for a touchdown (which does not include his amazing 92-yard dash on the first play of Super Bowl XLI) the Bears have begun mulling over the different ways they may be able to use Hester next season. Although he played on only special teams and defense in 2006, Smith and offensive coordinator Ron Turner are not ruling out the possibility of playing the former Miami Hurricane on offense in 2007.

Devin Hester: Fastest Player in Madden History

devinhester
The Madden video game has never given a player a perfect score of 100 in one of its skill ratings. Until now. Bears return man Devin Hester, who set an NFL record with six kick return touchdowns in the regular season and then added another in the Super Bowl, has scored a 100 in the speed category.

"That's just about the best thing you could have told me," Hester said with a huge smile, when informed of his new Speed rating. "It's an honor -- I don't know what to say, really."

Among the players who have had a 99 speed rating in the past are Deion Sanders, Randy Moss and Charles Woodson. I don't think Hester is as fast as Sanders and Moss were in their primes, but Madden ratings aren't exactly the most precise measurements in the world. It's still pretty cool to see someone get a 100.

(aolsportsblog.com)

Bears mulling whether to move Hester to offense

LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Ron Turner isn’t exactly straddling the fence when it comes to the debate about whether to move Devin Hester to the offensive side of the ball.

“He’s obviously a special talent, and to be honest with you, I’ve been trying to recruit him since the day we drafted him,” the Bears offensive coordinator said Sunday at the fan convention. “I’m going to keep working on that and see if we can get him on offense.”

Hester was named All-Pro and selected to the Pro Bowl after setting an NFL record with six combined kick return touchdowns. His seventh, a 92-yarder on the opening kickoff of Super Bowl XLI, was voted the team’s top play of the season in a poll on ChicagoBears.com.

“He’s shown what he can do when he gets the ball in his hands,” Turner said. “If he’s on offense and we can get his hands on the ball six, seven or eight more times a game, who knows what he might be able to do with it. So we’ll keep working on that.”

Jury still out on Hester's role in 2007

The Bears think of it as a no-lose situation.

Nevertheless, the best way to deploy Devin Hester in 2007 remains a difficult decision chiefly because the Pro Bowl kick returner wants to play defense rather than offense.

"As you look at Devin Hester at the University of Miami, he played running back a little bit, of course he played wide receiver and he played defensive back," Bears coach Lovie Smith said at the team's 10th annual fan convention Saturday. "We've had discussions about him playing all of those positions. It makes sense.

"First off, you could argue that he's the most exciting player in the National Football League with his hands on the ball. So why wouldn't we move him to the offensive side of the football? But you also have to play guys where their heart is. Devin's heart is on the defensive side of the football -- but he likes scoring touchdowns."

Devin Hester Update

Don't be surprised to see Bears Pro Bowl RS Devin Hester on offense in 2007. "That's something that I think our coaches are going to talk about at length. It wouldn't surprise me," Chicago GM Jerry Angelo said at the scouting combine.

(profootballweekly.com)

Hester may get chance on offense next season

INDIANAPOLIS — It’s not official yet, but indications are that the Bears might not be able to resist the temptation to move Devin Hester to offense.

The latter of the Bears’ two second-round picks, 57th overall, Hester spent his rookie season developing his limited cornerback techniques but made an instant impact by returning 6 kicks for touchdowns, plus another in the Super Bowl.

“We need to get the ball in Devin’s hands,” coach Lovie Smith said. “The more times we put the ball in Devin’s hands, the better our chances are.”

When late-season injuries to starting cornerbacks Charles Tillman and Nate Vasher forced Hester onto the field as the nickel cornerback in passing situations, his production in the return game dipped. But special teams coordinator Dave Toub doesn’t foresee any problems next season.

Bears' Hester to see more action on 'O'

INDIANAPOLIS -- Bears general manager Jerry Angelo pondered the question for a few seconds.

"Do you have a player on offense who other teams fear and say they have to stop when they play you?"

Angelo produced the name of wide receiver Bernard Berrian. Although his numbers hit career highs of 51 catches, 775 yards and six touchdowns, they didn't put Berrian among the league's best receivers.

The real threat teams feared is the one who became the first player ever to return an opening kickoff for a Super Bowl touchdown and the first with six regular-season returns for TDs. That, of course, was rookie Devin Hester.

Hester could be the Bears' weapon of choice

NDIANAPOLIS — Bears general manager Jerry Angelo pondered the question for a few seconds.

“Do you have a player on offense who other teams fear and say they have to stop when they play you?”

Angelo produced the name of wide receiver Bernard Berrian. Although his numbers hit career highs of 51 catches, 775 yards and six touchdowns, they didn’t put Berrian among the league’s best receivers.

Jim Carrey Is a Devin Hester Fan

carreyhester

Jim Carrey's new movie, The Number 23, has opened today to terrible reviews. But if film critics don't like Carrey's work, at least one football player does: Bears return man Devin Hester joined Carrey at the film's premiere and posed with him in the picture you see here.

Hester had heard that Carrey admired him but didn't know for sure until speaking to the actor at the movie premiere Tuesday night. "They told me he was a big fan, but I didn't know [for certain] until I actually got a chance to meet him in person. He was going crazy," Hester said. "He was talking about how he had told the press before the Super Bowl that No. 23 Devin Hester was going to do something special in the Super Bowl."

Get it? Hester wears 23 on his jersey, and Carrey's movie is called The Number 23. Carrey was right about Hester doing something special in the Super Bowl, but Carrey's performance in the movie is more likely to draw comparisons to Rex Grossman.

(aolsportsblog.com)

Hester a star? All righty then

Devin Hester has strolled 108 yards. Now he has walked the red carpet. The Bears kick returner was a guest of actor Jim Carrey at the world premiere of the thriller "The Number 23" at the historic Orpheum Theatre in downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday night. "It made me feel like a celebrity," Hester, who was joined by teammate Chris Harris, told chicagobears.com. "It's something you usually just see on television." Hester had heard that Carrey admired him but didn't know for sure until speaking to the actor at the movie premiere Tuesday night. "They told me he was a big fan, but I didn't know [for certain] until I actually got a chance to meet him in person. He was going crazy," Hester said. "He was talking about how he had told the press before the Super Bowl that No. 23 Devin Hester was going to do something special in the Super Bowl."

(metromix.chicagotribune.com)

Hester ends slump quickly

Devin Hester proved that his playoff slump as a return man was temporary.

Hester, a rookie for the Bears, had six returns for touchdowns in the regular season but was held in check by Seattle and New Orleans in the first two rounds of the NFC playoffs.

The slump ended on the opening kickoff of Super Bowl XLI. Hester returned the opening kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead for the Bears.

Colts avoid Hester after 92-yard TD

MIAMI -- Devin Hester did his part Sunday. His 92-yard touchdown return on the opening kickoff not only put the Bears ahead, but it also gave them great field position for much of the game because the Indianapolis Colts tried kicking away from him.

The former Miami star looked right at home, using an incredible juke to start the return before turning on his speed to race to the end zone.

''We knew we were capable of returning one,'' Hester said. ''It was a right return, and it was set up the way [special-teams] coach Dave Toub planned it.

Hester's fast start wasted - Former 'Cane takes opening kickoff for TD

MIAMI GARDENS Chicago's Devin Hester did what he had done several times this season. His 92-yard kickoff return to open the game gave the Bears a 7-0 lead and momentum, but they couldn't maintain it.

"We wanted to set an example of special teams from the start," said Hester, a former Hurricane. "I wasn't surprised that they kicked to me the first time. I also wasn't surprised that they didn't kick to me again."

Hester's touchdown was his seventh kick return for a touchdown this season, an NFL record. He returned three punts, two kickoffs and a missed field goal in the regular season.

Hester primed to explode

MIAMI -- Indianapolis Colts coverage teams may need either Jack Bauer or a fallout shelter on Sunday.

"Devin Hester is a weapon. He is a nuclear weapon," Colts coach Tony Dungy said. "So you are never quite comfortable when your enemy has a nuclear weapon."

Hester's return abilities rate the biggest advantage the Bears possess heading into today's Super Bowl. To keep the league's second-leading punt returner (12.8 yards per return) and fifth-leading kick returner (26.4 ypr) from exploding, the Colts will need to cover like they haven't done all year.

Return man Hester Bears' gamebreaker

MIAMI - Some guys look fast when they walk. Devin Hester looks fast when he walks outside his Miami hotel.

Some guys look fast when they stand. Hester looks fast when he stands at Dolphins Stadium.

Nobody looks fast when they sit. Yet Hester looks fast as he sits at a table, the legs on his 5-foot-11, 196-pound frame built for speed.

As a senior at the University of Miami, Hester ran the 40-yard dash in 4.27 seconds.

Think about it. In the time it takes some guys to get out of a chair, Hester is 40 yards away.

Bears' Hester Emerges From the Tall Grass

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla., Jan. 29 — The players who grow up by the sugar-cane farms like to say that they get their speed from racing jackrabbits along country roads.

The players who grow up on the coast like to say that they get their speed from running through sand pits on the hottest summer days.

And the players who grow up in Riviera Beach, Fla., like to say that they get their speed from a football field with no grounds crew.

“The grass isn’t mowed here in the winter, so it gets really high and thick,” 15-year-old Tavis Hester said. “It kills your legs, but it also builds them. My grandfather played on this field. My uncle played here. And, you know, my brother played here.”

01hester.1.600

Hester's spectacular, but is he the best?

Miami - Former Broncos superstar return man Rick Upchurch has watched Chicago Bears rookie Devin Hester's spectacular season.

This season, Hester has an NFL record six returns for touchdowns - with one game remaining. Five of the six were at least 83 yards. Hester has been compared to the great return men of all-time. While Upchurch said Hester has been amazing, he is not ready to crown him the best.

"Gale Sayers was a tremendous returner of his era," Upchurch said. "Travis Williams was a tremendous return man of his era. Billy 'White Shoes' Johnson was a tremendous return man of his era. Brian Mitchell did some tremendous things.

"Devin Hester clearly is a great returner and will be one of the greats of his era, but there have been so many great returners that I can't say he'll be the best of all time."

Upchurch said Hester has a combination of speed and field vision that make him special. He also said the Bears' special-teams unit is excellent.

"It takes all 11 guys on the field to make it happen," Upchurch said. "With the Broncos, I used to map out a plan with my teammates during the week and follow the plan. It looks like the Bears and Hester have a similar connection going."

(denverpost.com)

Colts Face Tough Task Corralling Bears' Hester

(AP) FT. LAUDERDALE The mere thought of trying to corral Devin Hester kept Indianapolis' special teams coach wide awake last week.

Russ Purnell isn't getting much rest in South Florida, either.

"I slept about four hours for four nights," Purnell said. "He's extremely talented and his blockers are outstanding. That's what really gets lost in this is how good his blockers are."

Regardless of who's out in front, Hester has been the one finishing off the runs, often ending up in the end zone.

Bears are on to something with Hester

MIAMI — You think you've got this Super Bowl figured out. You go down the checklist one final time.

Peyton Manning? Advantage, Colts. Big-game experience? Colts. Receivers? Colts again.

Defense? Bears. Takeaways? Bears. Running game? Bears. In the end, it's not that complicated. If the Colts protect the football, they'll win Super Bowl XLI. Defensively, the Bears are good, but not good enough. Offensively, they can't win unless Rex Grossman plays better than he did in the NFC Championship Game.

Unless, that is, the Bears have a secret weapon. You're on the clock, Devin Hester. Your 15 minutes may be about to begin.

Big returns on Bears' investment

MIAMI — Rookie sensation Devin Hester detailed the skills that led to his NFL-record six regular-season returns for touchdowns and cast him as a breakaway threat for the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI.

The Pro Bowler knows where each return is designed, and he does everything to stick to the plan. But there also are times when something — he's never sure what — dictates a split-second decision to go against the plan, anything to make the first tackler hurtling toward him miss.

Hester sometimes gives ground before starting upfield, but not always. He sees defenders and openings, but he also senses them.

He is quick to credit his blockers while also attributing much of his unprecedented success to God-given talent. A tattoo on his back offers a Biblical quotation: "No weapon that is formed against me shall be able to prosper."

Colts call Bears' Hester 'a nuclear weapon'

MIAMI -- It almost could turn out too perfectly for Devin Hester, who grew up as the fastest kid in the neighborhood north of here in Riviera Beach.

The Chicago Bears kick and punt return specialist has the ability to change his homecoming and Sunday's Super Bowl XLI at Dolphin Stadium with a play or two.

He set an NFL record with six kick returns for touchdowns this season, and the Indianapolis Colts arrived in town talking about him being an X-Factor, and even nuclear.

Devin Hester "It's Very Special"

(on thoughts on the Bears ’85 team)“They made it in ’85 and it’s been a while since they’ve been back. This is my first year as a rookie and there are some great players that we’re playing with now. I’m going to go out this year and try to prove to ourselves that we’re capable of being as good as they were and hopefully be able to win the Super Bowl.”

(on what you remember about the Bears ’85 team)“They were a more dominant team. They were more vicious ultimately around that time, and they dominated every team they played. And where they took over the ballgame, and that’s what we’re trying to bring back to the Chicago Bears now, just a more physical team that’s willing to go out each and every play and come out with the victories.”

(on liking the underdog role during the season)
“Right, most definitely, because it not only gets you fired up, but it puts a chip on your shoulder, and that chip just being on your side sitting on your shoulder lets you know that we have something to prove. That’s the way we’ve been playing all year. Every game this year we’ve been playing, we’ve had the opposite team winning, and for us to come out like we did this year and produce the way we did is a great honor. Like I said, we’re the underdog in this game and that’s the way we like it, and that’s the way we’re going to go out and play.”

Hester's nurturing roots paid off with winning returns

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. – To get to the place where Devin Hester first dodged tackles as a kid, you must travel to the area Hurricane Wilma devastated in 2005, when it spiked a tree into his mother's house, when it shut down football for weeks. You hang a left onto Avenue H West, at The Blue Heron Church of God, and there sits Suncoast Community High School.

There is a marquee out in front, and on it reads: “We're the No. 7 best school in the U.S.A.” It is the school where Anthony Carter, one of the all-time great receivers, played football. It is the school where the younger Hester, now the Chicago Bears' record-setting rookie return man, was Reggie Bush without portfolio.

So, you would think, with the Bears playing the Colts on Sunday in Super Bowl XLI about an hour down the road, that the sign would read: “Home of Devin Hester!” No, if Hester – or Carter – went to Suncoast, the only proof of it is on their graduation certificates. No photos. No retired jerseys. No trophies.

Indy takes aim on Hester

Miami - Devin Hester - electrifying and explosive on the field, mellow and shy off it - was told upon his arrival at the Super Bowl on Sunday that the Indianapolis Colts plan to put some defensive starters on special teams as a preventive measure to stop Hester, the most dynamic NFL returner in years.

So, Devin, what are your thoughts on coach Tony Dungy's plan?

"I think it's a great idea," said Hester, a second-round pick.

Hester wasn't cocky in his answer. He wasn't trying to be humorous. He just said it, and was spot on. The only way to have a chance against Hester is to reinforce.

For Hester, Rookie Season Has Been a Distance Memory

MIAMI, Jan. 29 -- Basketball star Tamara James had plenty of reason to needle Devin Hester, her football-playing boyfriend during their years at the University of Miami. The Washington Mystics, after all, picked her in the first round of the WNBA draft last April 5. Three weeks later, Hester, one of the most electrifying players in Miami history, dropped into the second round of the NFL draft before the Chicago Bears selected him.

James might have been entitled to proclaim herself the most highly regarded rookie in their relationship, but she couldn't bear to do it. She recalled too vividly one of several cellphone calls during the NFL draft she received from Hester, his anxiety over when he would be selected turning into tears and humiliation when the Tennessee Titans failed to pick him minutes after saying they would.

He was beginning to think he had made the mistake of his life, opting out of his senior season at Miami.

"That was his lowest moment," she said. "It was hard to see him that upset."

Bears have arrived, so has former 'Cane

MIAMI The Chicago Bears arrived for Super Bowl XLI on Sunday, and return man Devin Hester came back to familiar territory as a proven threat and difference maker after leaving the University of Miami following his junior year as a player of unrealized potential.

As a rookie, Hester has done what he never did in three seasons with the Hurricanes. He established himself as the kind of game-breaker other teams fear enough to keep the ball out of his hands on kickoff and punt returns.

He was criticized for not having a position with the Hurricanes, and the coaching staff was equally criticized for not getting him more touches. Critics doubted if he was ready for the NFL.

"I felt that a lot of people were doubting me and saying that I wasn't going to be able to do this and that I wasn't going to be able to do that," said Hester, who attended Suncoast High. "My mom and I talked, and I said, `It's just another test, and I've got to go out and prove to the guys that are doubting me that I'm capable of being in the NFL and playing well.'"

With the help of the Bears' special teams, Hester has proven he doesn't need many touches to change a game. He returned three punts and two kickoffs for touchdowns. His 108-yard missed field goal return against the New York Giants tied the longest play in NFL history. His total of six return touchdowns is a NFL record.

During the regular season, Hester averaged 26.4 yards on 20 kickoff returns and 12.8 yards on 47 punt returns. In the playoffs, he has been less effective with fewer chances and more emphasis on him. But he did have a 66-yard punt return against Seattle called back on a penalty.

(orlandoSentinel.com)

Chicago rookie hoping for many happy returns

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Ask Devin Hester if he knows who Desmond Howard is and the Chicago Bears kick returner's eyes light up.

"Oh yeah," Hester said. "He's the guy who got a shot early in his Super Bowl days and came out on top as MVP of the Super Bowl."

Howard is the only returner to do that in a Super Bowl. That was a decade ago. The former Green Bay Packer's name resonates with Hester because of what the rookie accomplished this season. He set an NFL record with six return scores, three on punts, two on kickoffs and another on a missed field goal.

Hester is excited to return to Miami, where he played in college for the Hurricanes. He wants to put an exclamation point on a stellar year against the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLI. Then Hester is headed to the Pro Bowl.

"Devin Hester could very easily be the difference in this ballgame," Bears coach Lovie Smith said.

This rookie has no ego about what he can do

Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy fears him. Bears coach Lovie Smith says he could be the difference maker. So how does Bears rookie return man Devin Hester feel about his role in the Super Bowl?

''I don't feel like I have to go out and return a punt or a kickoff to prove anything,'' Hester said. ''I just want to have a solid game.''

Ever humble and shy, Hester spoke softly, looking downward. But when Desmond Howard's name was mentioned, the 24-year-old looked up and smiled. Does he remember what Howard did a decade ago in Super Bowl XXXI?

''Oh, yeah, he came out on top as the MVP of the Super Bowl,'' Hester said.

Faith helps keep Hester ready for takeoff

On the greatest night of Devin Hester's professional life, it almost seemed like he could fly.

Stunning the nation and the St. Louis Rams with a Monday Night Football tour de force, Hester returned two kickoffs for touchdowns. Those 94- and 96-yard runs put the rookie in the NFL record book with six return touchdowns on the season.

And since he seemed so ready to take off, it seemed only natural to ask Hester about the wings tattooed on his back. They are large, arcing over his shoulder blades and following the line of his lats, cradling between them this phrase:

"No weapon formed against you shall prosper and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn."

BRICKER: Hester could exploit Colts' big weakness

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Indianapolis will have a predicted edge in most of the matchup areas in Super Bowl XLI, but the one facet of this game that is heavily weighted in the Chicago Bears' favor is kick returning.

It's also the area that the Colts must spend an inordinate amount of time dealing with in the days before the game, and there is going to be a great deal of pressure on special teams coach Russ Purnell to make things better.

It's difficult enough that Purnell's kickoff coverage unit is facing Devin Hester, who has six kick returns for touchdowns this year. But his unit has done a poor job all season, right into the playoffs, where they gave up an 80-yard kickoff return to New England's Ellis Hobbs on Sunday.

Devin Hester, the Bears' Super Bowl X-Factor

Everybody knows it: Super Bowls often come down to special teams play.

In Super Bowl XXXVI, the Patriots squeaked out a 20-17 win over the Rams thanks to a game-winning kick from Adam Vinatieri. Vinatieri repeated those heroics in Super Bowl XXXVIII, helping the Pats edge the Panthers 31-28.

But big special teams performances aren’t the realm of kickers alone. With that in mind, and with Super Bowl XLI less than two weeks away, it’s hard to understand why the Chicago Bears’ most potent weapon is being entirely ignored by the media.

Devin Hester's Impact on the Super Bowl

This is where Devin Hester could pull Chicago’s fat out of the fire. He has become a household name in his own right, scoring six return touchdowns – one more TD than wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad. Hester was also second in the NFL with 12.8 yards per punt return, while Indianapolis’ Terrence Wilkins was a mediocre 9.2 yards. Hester also topped Wilkins in kick returns by 26.5 yards to 24.5. Those yards add up over the course of a game and take pressure off the unproven shoulders of Bears QB Rex Grossman.

Yet even with Hester, there is a hidden story that should make Bears supporters pause before laying down their cash. Hester committed 12 fumbles this year on returns. It’s not uncommon for returners to let the ball slip through their hands – Wilkins did so 13 times this year – only to pick it up right away and start heading downfield.

Hester, though, has suffered his share of embarrassing moments. For example, in Week 9, Eddie Jackson of the Miami Dolphins recovered a Hester fumble at the 10-yard line to set up a Marty Booker touchdown in a 31-13 Miami romp, spoiling any hopes for an undefeated season in Chicago.

(sportsedge.vip.com)

Threat of Hester has Dungy worried

INDIANAPOLIS -- New England has what might be the NFL's premier return game, and it forced the Indianapolis Colts to labor in Sunday's AFC championship victory.

Ellis Hobbs returned six kickoffs for 220 yards, a record for a conference title game. He set up a touchdown with an 80-yard runback and triggered a field-goal drive with a 41-yard return.

When the Colts meet the Bears in Super Bowl XLI, the challenge will be Devin Hester.

"We covered pretty well for the most part, and then we let those two [Hobbs returns] get out," Colts coach Tony Dungy said.

"With a guy like Devin Hester, that can be catastrophic.

"That's a big part of what they do and how they're built. They get field position with their defense, they get field position with their return game and they've got an offense that really takes advantage of good field position. That's going to be critical."

Hester set an NFL record with six touchdown returns in the regular season: two on kickoffs, three on punts and one on a missed field goal.

(chicagosports.chicagotribune.com)

HESTER EXCITED

Bears return specialist Devin Hester can't wait to get down to South Florida for the Super Bowl. After all, he's only one season removed from the University of Miami, where he starred for the Hurricanes.

Many of his friends still play for UM.

''They were text-messaging me all week,'' he said.

(herald.com)

Catch-23: Hester thinks too much

It's a beautiful thing when Devin Hester runs the ball, fluid and instinctive. He looks for the colors of the jerseys in front of him, nothing too heady, and then runs away from the wrong color. Or he slips through holes in between colors, and then? He flies.

''Obviously,'' Bears special-teams coach Dave Toub said, ''after the catch, there's nobody like him.''

Yes, but Toub said two things there, didn't he? ''Nobody like him'' and ''after the catch.'' We've seen the problems with that second part lately, the catching part. Hester has become the scariest Bear, scaring us before the catch, scaring opponents after.

What has happened? For most of the season, Hester has been touchdowns and spotlight, NFL return records, endorsement options and even Deion
Sanders, the mentor, showing awe.

Silent of late, Hester still dangerous

Of late, the Lethal Weapon hasn't looked so lethal.

Chicago rookie Devin Hester, who this season set an NFL record with six returns for touchdowns, has been rendered ineffective of late by other teams' designs and his own mistakes.

In his past three games, Hester has returned eight punts for a total of 24 yards. In the Bears' playoff game against Seattle, he muffed three kicks, finishing with three returns for a net of 5 yards.

Hester has Saints' attention

LAKE FOREST -- Kick returner extraordinaire Devin Hester has got this all wrong. He's supposed to scare opponents, not his teammates. But in last week's 27-24 overtime escape from Seattle, the "Windy City Flyer" fumbled three punts that he returned for a measly 5 yards.

"I'll get in the routine of my arms pumping sometimes and I'll start to run before I get the ball," Hester said of his sloppy fielding. "That's why everything this week has been basically fundamentals and technique. We concentrated on the small things that got us here and that we need to keep doing to succeed.

"I know that once I get in that traffic, I have to have more ball security."

With his single-season record six return touchdowns, most agree the second-round draft pick from Miami is the game's most dangerous scoring threat -- despite a mini-slump.

Bears' Hester and Saints' Bush very special on special teams

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) - Devin Hester sped down the right sideline on his way to another game-breaking special teams touchdown. The Soldier Field crowd was frenzied, his teammates headed toward the end zone to join the celebration.

Oops. That bright yellow flag lying back where the rookie fielded Seattle's punt meant it was all for naught, and the Chicago Bears wound up needing overtime to beat the Seahawks.

"It was an awesome return on his behalf," Brendon Ayanbadejo, who is going to the Pro Bowl for his work on kick returns and coverage, said Thursday. "Too bad we had to take it back."

The play didn't count - in NFL statistics, it never existed - but the latest example of how Hester can break open a game won't fade from memory. Not for the Bears and certainly not for the New Orleans Saints, who come to Chicago for Sunday's NFC championship game.

Devin Hester's kick returns can inspire cheers or cringing

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The snow-covered sign just outside the Chicago Bears' practice facility reads "Play Angry."

To send a message Monday to rookie returner Devin Hester, it should have been changed to "Play Smart."

Few players are capable of eliciting as many "oohs" as "ughs" as Hester, the former University of Miami and Suncoast High standout whose special teams prowess has helped Chicago reach Sunday's NFC Championship Game against visiting New Orleans.

Hester's six returns for touchdowns during the regular season set an NFL record and provided a boost to offensive and defensive units that performed erratically down the stretch. But his league-leading eight fumbles -- two of which were lost -- make every punt and kick Hester tries to field exciting for the wrong reason.

Bears' fortunes may rest with Hester

Had a nice chat Friday with Ken Mrock, the head groundskeeper for the Bears. He was holding a shovel full of stuff -- sand, seed, growth hormone, whatever -- and he was flinging it over the still-green grass of the main practice field at Halas Hall with great zest.

(Just kidding about the growth hormone, OK?)

At any rate, Mrock told me that global warming might or might not be a factor in this unseasonably warm weather (trust me, it is), but that the grass at Soldier Field is just as green and summerlike as this practice stuff.

''It's all heated underneath,'' he said.

Bears' Hester has made kick returns must-see TV

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- If Lovie Smith is really this good a soothsayer, perhaps everyone needs to start paying better attention.

Chicago's third-year coach held firm in the face of countless media and fan harrumphs last April after the Bears spent a precious second-round pick (57th overall) on kick returner Devin Hester. That's the equivalent of burning an NBA lottery pick on a 5-foot free-throw specialist, no?

One regular season later, Smith and Hester have played the naysayers for suckers. The Bears have turned the relative afterthought of special teams, a place often used by players to attract attention and butt their way onto the offensive or defensive units, into a secret weapon of season-altering proportions.

All's been quiet on Hester front

LAKE FOREST -- Devin Hester came away with all the major honors at season's end based on an NFL record six touchdown returns.

But what's he done for them lately?

With the Bears heading into the playoffs to face Seattle on Sunday, Hester is mired in a slump in several ways. Hester has averaged only 17.7 yards per 10 kickoff return since the shocking two-touchdown game against the St. Louis Rams which vaulted him into national prominence.

Devin Hester Update

Rookie returner Devin Hester typically fields an extra 50-100 punts and kicks after practice. This week is playoff week; make that 100 on Monday, young man. Coordinator Dave Toub is not overly concerned with Hester getting any kind of jitters as the rookie goes into his first NFL playoff game. "That's part of it and that goes along with being a rookie," Toub said.

(chicagosports.chicagotribune.com)