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Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Is he or isn't he?

During a hit on the "Waddle and Silvy" show on ESPN 1000 last week, Tom Waddle, Marc Silverman and myself set the over/under for Devin Hester's numbers at wide receiver for the upcoming season.

I projected the following: 65 catches, 900 yards and 6 touchdowns.

Some may think these statistics are a tad inflated, but Hester has progressed in the two seasons since making the full-time switch to receiver. To wit: 2007 -- 20 catches, 299 yards and 2 touchdowns; 2008 -- 51 catches, 665 yards and 3 touchdowns.

We also need to take into account: 1. Jay Cutler's ability to connect on deep passes down the field; 2. Hester's improved grasp of the offensive playbook. Hester took a lot of grief from Bears fans and media because he occasionally forgot where to line up on certain plays -- the most notable being 2007 at Philadelphia. But by all accounts, those issues are in the past, and Hester has emerged this off-season as a leader on the offense.

Lovie Smith has labeled Hester a "legitimate number one receiver" during mini-camp and organized team activities. With the Plaxico Burress situation getting increasingly complicated by the day, it's starting to look like we may find out if Smith's assessment of Hester is accurate.