Coach: Good Devin Hester wants ball
Hester was on the field for 11 of the team's 69 offensive snaps in last weekend's 23-6 victory over the St. Louis Rams. On the season he has two catches for 27 yards and two rushing attempts for 4 yards.
"As a receiver, you better want it (the ball)," Drake said. "If you don't want the ball I don't want you. If you don't want the football what good are you? If you don't want the football what kind of competitor are you? So every receiver that I've ever known in all the years that I've been a part of football have wanted the football.
"When I was playing as a receiver I wanted the football. Those that don't, they don't need to be playing receiver."
Hester expressed disappointment in his limited role through three weeks prior to 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," Hester told ESPNChicago.com's Jesse Rogers.
However, there have been opportunities on which, for whatever reason, Hester has failed to capitalize. Hester dropped a pass in Week 2 versus the Green Bay Packers, then nearly scored his first touchdown of the season last week in the fourth quarter when he ran a nice route to get open on the right side of the end zone. But Hester failed to come down with the football as the pass sailed through his outstretched hands.
Quarterback Jay Cutler later acknowledged the throw to Hester was a little high, but Drake felt the receiver still needed to make the play.
"I thought it was tough, but one he has to make," Drake said. "But it was a tough catch. It was high, it was up. But every ball is not going to be perfect. Every one is not going to be perfect. Here is our philosophy: Make the ones that you're supposed to make and make the ones that you are not supposed to make. The average ones, catch all those, but those that are not, catch those too because that's what separates you. That's what he was told, and that's what they are all told."
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.
Still, Drake remains committed to getting Hester involved in the offense after the organization spent the offseason touting the existence of a "Devin Hester package" of plays that was designed to get the ball into the hands of the Pro Bowl return man.
"We're not going to give up on him," Drake said. "We're going to keep sawing wood and keep trying to get better. Have those opportunities been perfect? No. But when opportunities present themselves, we have to make those plays. The same with all of them. When the ball comes to Brandon Marshall, he has to make that play. When the ball comes to Alshon Jeffery, he has to make that. When the ball comes to Earl Bennett, he has to make that play. So it's no different with Devin. It's no different with any of them. When the ball comes to Kellen Davis, he has to make that play.
"When guys don't make it, we have to find out a reason why they didn't make it and make sure when they get that opportunity again they make it."