Coach's Big Decision: Hester or Bennett?

October, 27, 2012
10/27/12
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Devin Hester catching a touchdown pass against the CowboysRonald Martinez/Getty ImagesDevin Hester has 10 catches for 152 yards and a touchdown this season.


With Alshon Jeffery still out of the lineup, the Chicago Bears need to decide how much playing time to give to Devin Hester as opposed to Earl Bennett. Furthermore, the staff needs to determine how much increased repetitions for Hester could affect the Bears’ return game.

Hester and Bennett put up similar numbers against the Detroit Lions, with the former catching three passes for 38 yards and the latter contributing 37 yards on three receptions.

But it might be more advantageous for the Bears to give Bennett the majority of the snaps on offense, so Hester can focus more on special teams. Hester played 61 snaps on offense against the Lions, while Bennett lined up for 39 snaps.

Maybe decreased snaps on offense would allow Hester to be more productive in the return game.

Special teams coordinator Dave Toub acknowledged Thursday that Hester needs to improve his decision making on punt returns. Against the Lions, Hester averaged five yards on one punt return and called for a fair catch on two, including one that Toub thought could have been returned for a touchdown.

Toub said the staff made sure to take into account how Hester’s increased offensive snaps would affect him as a returner, which is likely one of the reasons the Bears used Eric Weems for one return.

Given that Bennett can be just as productive on offense as Hester, the team might need to put off the “Hester Package” a week and give Bennett the opportunity to pick up the slack offensively in Jeffery’s absence.

Michael C. Wright

ESPN Chicago Bears reporter

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