Devin Hester struggling through injury

Updated: December 21, 2011, 3:03 AM ET
By Melissa Isaacson | ESPNChicago.com

CHICAGO -- Chicago Bears return man Devin Hester said Tuesday he is hurting emotionally as well as physically in dealing with the limitations of a sprained ankle he first injured six weeks ago and tweaked again last week.

"It's very hard not being able to be yourself," said the Bears receiver and record-setting return specialist. "That's the hardest part."

Hester, appearing Tuesday night with teammate Earl Bennett and Green Bay Packers receiver Jordy Nelson and Ryan Grant at a Nike-sponsored touch football event featuring more than 100 local high school athletes at Soldier Field, has seen his play diminish as of late.

Since hurting his ankle against the Eagles on Nov. 7, he has had just four receptions for 47 yards, not catching a pass in four games. In the Bears loss to Seattle on Sunday, Bennett took over returning punts in the third quarter.

Hester said the injury, along with assorted bumps and bruises, have affected his entire game, including his judgment.

"Because you can't give it that burst like you want to," he said. "Any fast guy, if you have a sprained ankle, it just eliminates what you can do. It's like a quarterback with two broken fingers ...

"It shows a little bit, let's put it that way, it shows a little bit. I don't feel like myself but at the same time this is the NFL and you have to fight through things like that."

Hester said he never considered not playing against the Seahawks or Sunday in Green Bay.

"If I can walk, I'm going to go, let's put it that way," he said. "I might not be able to run but if I can walk, I can go out and at least try my best."

Melissa Isaacson is a columnist for ESPNChicago.com.

Melissa Isaacson

Columnist, ESPNChicago.com
Melissa Isaacson is a columnist for espnW.com, ESPN Chicago and ESPN.com. The award-winning writer has covered Chicago sports for most of her 31-year career, including at the Chicago Tribune before joining ESPN in 2009. Isaacson has also covered tennis since 1986.

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