LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Return specialist Devin Hester grinned Friday when approached by reporters to explain the cameo appearance he made at practice this week with the club’s defensive backs.
“If I go line up at quarterback and take a couple of snaps, you are all going to say we are running the option or running the Wildcat,” Hester said. “That’s your job.”
Hester, a former collegiate and NFL cornerback and nickelback, participated with members of the secondary in individual drills open to the media twice this week (Wednesday and Friday), and even spent roughly 10 minutes after Wednesday’s session working one-on-one with Bears’ defensive backs coach Jon Hoke.
“I did it to have fun,” Hester said. “Being a special-teamer now, I really don’t get as many reps as the normal guys do in practice since I’m a specialist now with the returns. That’s pretty much all I do now. To keep myself busy, I jump in every now and again to play around.
“We all hang out off the field, so whenever I come over there and play around with those guys, it gives them a little more energy and a little more excitement to go out there and work hard. When they see me in their group, it sparks them up a little bit. You have to make practice fun. You just can’t go through the same routine every day. When you joke around and have some fun, it goes by quick.”
While Hester seemed to enjoy the attention, he got serious for a moment when asked if he could cover Tavon Austin, the Rams' speedy rookie wide receiver, if the situation called for it.
“I can cover anybody,” Hester said before cracking a smile. “Just put a safety over the top, and I can shut anybody down. I need a safety over the top; I’m a Cover 2 man.”
Hester is likely an emergency option for the Bears if they suffer more injuries in the secondary Sunday. Cornerback Charles Tillman (triceps) has already been ruled out, while safety Craig Steltz is questionable with a concussion and starting nickelback Isaiah Frey is dealing with a fractured right hand that will require him to wear a cast during the game. The Bears also have reserve cornerbacks Sherrick McManis and Derrick Martin on the depth chart, and could theoretically elevate another defensive back from the practice squad before Sunday since the active roster stands at 52 (the max is 53).