Happy return as Hester eyes New York

October, 1, 2010
10/01/10
1:40
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[+] EnlargeDevin Hester
AP Photo/Bill KostrounWhen Devin Hester first saw the Bears' schedule, the game in the Meadowlands caught his attention.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Dave Toub remembers Nov. 12, 2006.

"Unbelievable. What a play," Toub said Friday.

The play in question was Devin Hester's 108-yard touchdown return off a Jay Feeley missed field goal in the fourth quarter of the Bears' 38-20 win over the Giants in the old Meadowlands Stadium.

"That was the first thing I thought about when I looked at the schedule and saw we played them out there, that missed field goal," Hester said.

"He [Hester] was already on the map, but it was just another one," Toub said. "It's kind of weird how it hasn't really happened again. We had it happen two years in a row [Nathan Vasher had a 108-yard return versus San Francisco in 2005], then nothing. It was unbelievable; fascinating play."

Fast forward nearly four years.

Hester, who endured a much publicized drought on returns from 2008-09, is back turning heads on special teams after a 62-yard punt return against the Green Bay Packers on Monday night.

"It brings everybody's attention back to the fact that he still has it," Toub said. "He never really lost it. He made the transition over to wide receiver, [and] there was a little period there when it wasn't [at] the forefront for him. But he's been wanting to break them. We've had a couple last year, one called back last year because of a holding penalty. He had some big returns last year, but we just didn't get into the end zone.

"But when you get him back in the end zone, it puts back in everybody's minds how actually really good Devin is."

The timing couldn't be better, because quite frankly, the Giants have been downright offensive on their third phase.

"[The special teams have] been horrible, and they continued that way today [against Tennessee]," Giants head coach Tom Coughlin said Sunday.

In the spotlight for New York is rookie punter Matt Dodge, who's displayed a nasty penchant for line-drive kicks. Not exactly the type of football flight a team desires when a dangerous return man is standing on the other end.

Coughlin can instruct Dodge to kick away from Hester -- which he has -- but the rookie must be able to execute the kicks without sacrificing field position.

"It's hard to kick away from somebody," Toub said. "You're saying you're going to kick it out of bounds basically, but for a punter that's hard to do. It's hard to do that and still get good yardage at the same time."

"I want to get a punt return against them," Hester said. "I want to get at least a punt return run against every team in the NFL. That's my goal."

Jeff Dickerson | email

Chicago Bears beat reporter
Dickerson has been the Bears beat reporter for ESPN Chicago since 2004. He also hosts weeknight radio shows on ESPN 1000.

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