Can Hester breathe life into return game?
December, 7, 2012
By Jeff Dickerson | ESPNChicago.com
Wesley Hitt/Getty ImagesDevin Hester is expected to play Sunday after missing a game with a concussion.LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears are hopeful that re-inserting Devin Hester back into the special teams mix will provide a spark Sunday in the Metrodome after the return man missed last week's game with a concussion.
Since taking over the kickoff return duties leading up to the Bears' first meeting with Minnesota, Eric Weems has averaged just 21.7 yards per return while Hester averaged 25.5.
On punt returns, Weems fair caught the only ball he fielded last week against Seattle, but that job likely goes back to Hester, who has four career special teams touchdowns against the Vikings (three punt return, one kickoff return).
Hester practiced all week and is listed as probable on the official injury report.
"You sound like a Minnesota scout, man," Hester responded when a reporter asked if he's returning kicks on Sunday. "I don't know. We'll see."
Bears special teams coordinator Dave Toub didn't exactly breathe a sigh of relief when he learned the Vikings had placed the league's No.1 kickoff returner, Percy Harvin, on injured reserve.
With Harvin inactive two weeks ago, Minnesota's second-string returner Marcus Sherels enjoyed some success against the Bears' coverage unit when he ran back a kick 38 yards in the first quarter of the Bears' 28-10 victory on Nov. 25.
"Sherels got the longest return we gave up all year against us," Toub said. "We've got a lot of respect for him. He's very, very good."
Sherels returned a pair of kickoffs for 53 yards (26.5 avg.) last week against the Green Bay Packers and has long return of 41 yards that occurred Nov. against Detroit.