- Michael C. Wright, ESPN Staff Writer
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BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- By simply stating his main goal for the 2012 NFL season on Wednesday at training camp, Chicago Bears receiver Devin Hester might have revealed a little more about the team’s upcoming plans for him in the new offense under Mike Tice.
“My biggest thing is when I catch the ball, (I want to) accelerate and make guys miss,” Hester said. “That’s my biggest goal this year: when I get my hands on the ball I want to just explode out and I want to make two or three guys miss before I go down. If it’s only two out there, then I want to score.”
Although the remarks come off as somewhat standard football speak, from this vantage point, it seems a major component of the Hester package the staff continuously lauds will involve him catching the ball on short routes in space where he can use his blinding speed and athleticism to make defenders miss for large chunks of yardage.
That’s not to say the Bears don’t plan on throwing deep to Hester.
After all, Tice said in June “we can’t be afraid to throw the ball down the field against single coverage.”
So with the Bears expecting Brandon Marshall to draw double coverage from opponents, Hester could be left in more one-on-one matchups in which a missed tackle -- considering Hester’s speed -- could result in the receiver going the distance.
Working in conjunction with quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates, Tice morphed the passing portion of the offense into a system very similar to the Denver Broncos’ passing offense of 2008. That means Hester will run defined routes on most plays instead of reading and reacting the way receivers did under former coordinator Mike Martz, who utilized a system heavy with hot routes and patterns that had to be broken off based on the look given by the defense.
Hester says the past two seasons in Martz’s system weren’t wasted. In fact, what he learned with Martz could pay dividends in 2012.
“I think I became a lot better with Martz,” Hester said. “I understand what it takes to be a receiver in the NFL. It’s like coach Tice says, (changing the offense is like) ‘adding another club in your bag.’
Going through a lot of offenses, you pick and choose things you feel can help you and make you a better receiver,” Hester said.
“Unfortunately, I’ve been in about three or four offenses now.”
But this one seems to fit more than others, said Hester, who admitted he’s “trying to copycat everything” done on the field by Marshall, who has extensive experience working with Cutler and Bates.
“We’ve got so many weapons now. We’ll be sitting here all day naming everybody. We’ve got deep threat guys, guys that can go up and get the ball,” Hester said. “We’ve got the quick game, and then we’ve got a running attack with three or four guys that can come in right away and do damage to the defense. This is an offense I think fits me. This offense fits everybody.”
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