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Hester won't be only 'special' player

1/13/2011
Leon Washington has scored three touchdowns this season, and he's keeping Bears special teams coach Dave Toub up at night. Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Dave Toub swears his new beard is only for the playoffs.

But aside from all the Bears special teams contributors banding together to grow postseason facial hair, could there be another reason why Toub looks so disheveled?

"[Leon Washington] is keeping me up at night, let's put it that way," Toub said following Thursday's practice.

Washington, one of the NFL's top return men, has expanded his role since the Seahawks' last trip to Soldier Field on Oct. 17. Not only is Washington one of the league's most dangerous kickoff returners (3 touchdowns), he took over punt return duties for the Seahawks midway through the season.

"He's dangerous, he hits it north and south and is strong," Toub said. "Anytime he gets the ball in his hands, we know he could take it to the house. Now that he's been moved into the punt return role, that just means more touches. We now have our hands full on punt return and kickoff return."

So do the Seahawks.

Not only did Devin Hester run back a punt 89-yards for a touchdown against Seattle, Danieal Manning had a kickoff return score called back because of a holding penalty. Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, however, told ESPN 1000 this week he intends to kick to Hester Sunday, a decision Toub understands and supports.

"That's fine, why not?" Toub said. "I understand what he's saying, you have to punt the ball. There are times you have to do it and cannot afford to kick the ball out of bounds. He's going to get the ball in his hands, no doubt about it, just like Leon Washington is going to get the ball in his hands. We have to decide when we want to kick to him, when do we not want to kick to him. We're both in the same boat this week."