Friday, October 26, 2012
Hester agrees he has made return mistakes
By Jeff Dickerson
The Bears' Devin Hester is tackled by the Packers' John Kuhn on a punt return.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Devin Hester does not refute the notion that he's been too passive in the return game.
One day after Chicago Bears special teams coordinator Dave Toub said Hester "probably made some decisions he would probably take back" in the club's Oct. 22 win over the Detroit Lions, the three-time Pro Bowler vowed to get more aggressive when returning kicks moving forward.
"He's right," Hester said of Toub's comments. "I have to be more aggressive to the ball. I'm going to man up and confess that I haven't been as aggressive as I normally should.
"The good thing is I know what mistakes I've made, and the mistakes I've made I know how to fix them. Being the type of player that I am I know my mistakes and I know what I got to do to fix them. Point blank."
Hester appeared to have a shot at a lengthy punt return in fourth quarter of Monday night's win over the Lions when a short 35-yard punt by Nick Harris landed at the Lions' 47-yard line. But Hester called for a fair catch on the play, even though it looked as if he had room to run if he would have fielded the punt. Earlier in the game Hester let a punt drop instead of calling for a fair catch that resulted in a 58-yard kick by Harris that put the ball on the Bears' 19.
"He probably made some decisions in that game he would probably take back," Toub said. "He might have returned that last one possibly, but that's just the way it is. Most of the time he's going to make the correct decision. We just want him to get that aggressiveness back and we think we'll get it sooner or later.
"That's probably the hardest position to play -- that punt returner. You have to make a lot of decisions. You have to check the coverage. Is it high hang time or is it a line drive? You have to make those decisions and think fast on your feet. Sometimes you make the right decisions, sometimes you don't. It depends where you are on the field. If you're backed up and the ball is real deep and it's high hang-time you let it go. If it's a short kick you want to take it and try to steal one especially if there's no coverage. So we're going to continue to work and eventually it will come."
Hester holds the all-time NFL record for combined career kick return touchdowns with 17, but is averaging only 7.6 yards per punt return on 12 attempts with a long return of 23 yards over the first six games this season. Those numbers pale in comparison to Hester's career punt return average of 12.9 yards. He averaged 16.2 yards per punt return last season and brought back two kicks for touchdowns.
"When you get those opportunities you got to be aggressive and make those plays and try to steal one," Hester said. "That's something that I got to start doing. The returns that I'm capable of returning, I just got to go ahead and be aggressive and make them."
Hester does not believe his increased role on offense has played a part in his drop off on special teams. Hester played 59 snaps on offense in the win over the Lions due to the fact rookie Alshon Jeffery is out with a fractured hand.
"That really didn't hinder my return game," Hester said. "At the end of the day, I need to be more aggressive. I know that, and I know how to fix it. We're looking forward to this week."