Devin Hester frustrated with role
"It's hard being one of the top electrifying players in the league and you're not able to get your hands on the ball as much as you want," Hester told ESPNChicago.com before Friday's practice.
It's hard being one of the top electrifying players in the league and you're not able to get your hands on the ball as much as you want.” -- Devin Hester
In addition to his two catches for 27 yards, Hester has two rushes for 4 yards and has yet to score a touchdown. Through three games last season, Hester had seven catches for 139 yards.
Hester almost had his first touchdown Sunday, but he couldn't come up with a pass from quarterback Jay Cutler in the end zone during the fourth quarter of the Bears' 23-6 victory over the Rams.
"We try to get him the ball. It doesn't always work out, like that one in the end zone (against the Rams on Sunday) that was designed for him," offensive coordinator Mike Tice said Thursday. "Basically it was a one-man route. We're trying to find ways to get him the ball. Sometimes the coverage dictates we're going to go to him, sometimes it doesn't."
Cutler acknowledged Thursday that he could have thrown the ball a little lower. On Friday, Hester took the blame.
"I was very excited that I knew the ball had about 75 percent chance of coming to me," Hester said. "I ran the route fine, I got open, I just have to find a way to make that."
Hester isn't sure why he's not seeing the ball more. In fact, he was on the field for just 11-of-69 offensive snaps against the Rams.
Asked if making plays -- like the one he missed against the Rams -- will earn him more touches, Hester said: "They know I want the ball. I just have to keep working at it, keep my head up, and get better every day. And don't let it distract me."
Of course, Hester made his name in the NFL as a dynamic return man, and he came close to breaking a touchdown return in the first two games. His next return for a TD will tie him with Deion Sanders for the most combined return touchdowns in NFL history.
Hester's 27.3-yard career average on kick returns is ninth in the NFL, as is his 11.1-yard average on punt returns.
Receivers coach Daryl Drake said the Bears have a plan for Hester, the receiver, every week.
"I mean, it's just a matter of we don't know what's going to happen during the course of a game," Drake said recently. "We go in with a plan -- sometimes those plans are determined by what happens to us defensively -- but we have a plan for him every week. And then you have to adjust depending on what's happening in the game."
The Bears have struggled to find a way to use Hester consistently in the offense since they committed to him as a receiver in 2008. He had career-highs of 57 receptions for 757 yards in 2009, but his catches have dropped to 40 and 26 the past two seasons.
He hopes the "Hester package" of plays that was talked about in the offseason and during training camp will be used soon.
"Hopefully it'll come one day, but for right now I'm in the same boat as you guys," Hester said. "I'm trying to figure out when it's going to come. It's a disappointing feeling. I know what I'm capable of."
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