Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFL [Print without images]

Monday, October 17, 2011
Devin Hester not seriously injured

By Michael C. Wright
ESPNChicago.com

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith classified the chest injury suffered by Devin Hester in Sunday's 39-10 win over the Minnesota Vikings as something "we're going to put in the bumps and bruises section," a strong indication the receiver isn't likely to miss any time.

"Whenever Devin Hester isn't on the field and doesn't finish, I'm concerned," Smith said Monday. "But we weren't too concerned about it (when it initially occurred) and we aren't still."

Hester declined to speak with the media in the locker room after Sunday's game, leaving question marks regarding the extent of the injury.

Hester suffered the chest injury on a Marion Barber run over right tackle for no gain with 45 seconds left in the third quarter.

The team officially declared Hester out in the fourth quarter.

Smith's assessment of Hester's injury is good news for the Bears, who at 3-3 are trying to dig themselves out of a big hole in the NFC North. The reigning division champions trail unbeaten Green Bay by three games and Detroit by two with losses to both teams, and the last thing they needed was to fall to the struggling Vikings.

Prior to the injury, Hester hauled in a 48-yard touchdown pass from Jay Cutler on the team's third play from scrimmage and broke a 98-yard kickoff return up the home team's sideline less than five minutes into the third quarter. The touchdown extended Hester's record for return touchdowns on kickoffs and punts to 16.

"Trying to score as many points as we possibly can, and we feel like we can do that with him on returns," Smith said. "But we feel like we can get him a couple more touches (in other facets) to do something with the football. He wants to do it also."

Hester is currently tied for second on the team in receiving, having caught 17 passes for 262 yards and a touchdown. On special teams, Hester has a combined 516 yards and two touchdowns on punt and kickoff returns.

"Every time he gets the ball in his hands he's a weapon, and he has potential to make a huge play and to get in the end zone," defensive end Israel Idonije said. "We all know he's invaluable and a big part of our offense, special teams, and why this team has that big-play potential."

Teammate Matt Spaeth had high praise, too.

"It's exciting when you've got a guy back there you know is a difference maker and if you get your block, and if everybody gets their blocks, he can make guys miss and make things happen," he said. "It's exciting to be out there."

Michael C. Wright covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.