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October 20, 2011 @ 2:35 pm
Current rating: 4.00 Stars/1 Votes

Hester Will Be A Handful

Written by Mark
Mark Cook


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Bears kick returner/wide receiver holds the NFL record with 17 kick returns for touchdowns. The Buccaneers will have to account for No. 23 in all aspects of the game Sunday if they have plan on coming back to Tampa with a 5-2 record heading into the bye week.

After successfully containing Saints running back and kick returner Darren Sproles last Sunday, there will be no rest for the Buccaneers’ special teams unit in London this week.

Going from one of the best in Sproles, to the absolute best in Devin Hester, Raheem Morris and special teams coordinator Dwayne Stukes have no intentions of allowing Hester to add to his NFL-record 17 kick returns for touchdowns.

"Devin Hester will have to go against our Pro Bowler, hopefully our Pro Bowler, a grass skirt guy if we can get him into one, in Michael Koenen,'' Morris said Thursday. "Hopefully we can directional kick and do some different things but if we have to kick to him, like last week, we played Sproles who is a dynamic kick returner and we were able to keep the ball away from him and limit his touches, that's what we'll have to do.''

The second round selection of Hester from Miami in 2006, who was originally drafted as a defensive back, was criticized by Chicago fans and media at the time. All Hester did to quiet the critics was return two kickoffs and three punts for touchdowns as a rookie.

Hester has already found the end zone this season, returning a kickoff 98 yards last Sunday night against the Minnesota Vikings. Hester’s 17 touchdowns have come in just 82 career games.

Bears head coach and former Buccaneers assistant Lovie Smith, commented he stopped being surprised about Hester’s abilities a long time ago.

“In the time that Devin has been here, we’ve seen it all,” Smith said. “Once a player gets hot and starts returning a lot, often the next approach is to kick it away from him. That’s been a common thing we’ve seen in games.

“But this year, teams have kicked the ball off to him quite a bit. He’s our kickoff returner and our punt returner, so he’s getting a few opportunities. Right now, teams are kicking it off and saying they’re just going to cover and we hope teams continue to do that.”

Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler said on a conference call Wednesday to the media at One Buccaneer Place that Hester’s kick returns are game changers.

“On our sideline, the biggest thing when special teams is out there is whether they’re going to kick it to him or not,” Cutler said on a conference call today. “Because, if they do, there’s a strong chance it could possibly get returned for a touchdown.”

Besides being the NFL’s best return man, Hester has developed as a quality wide receiver and has 17 receptions for 262 yards and one touchdown this year.

“Whenever (he scores), it’s so dramatic,” Cutler added. “It’s such a kill shot for the other team. It takes the life out of them. He’s come so far as a receiver and his ability to be able to do both is phenomenal.”

New Orleans’ Sproles was a dual threat that Tampa Bay was able to contain but Hester may prove to be more difficult. The former Hurricane has seen time on offense, defense and special teams this season and if the Buccaneers want to fly home from London victorious is may all depend on how well they keep No. 23 under wraps.

Last modified on Thursday, 20 October 2011 16:32

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  • avatar

    kick it out of bounds when you kick too hester it's not worth taking a chance
  • avatar

    It is about Forte and pressure on Cutler. The Bucs win this game in a decisive fashion because their O and D Lines are better than the bears right now. As far as Hester, I have confidence in Koenen also. The kickoffs should be deep enough and the punts will either be angled out of bounds or have enough hang time that it will not matter. If they do punt a returnable ball to him, I am already confident that it was a mistake. No way do they kick it to him without making sure there is ALOT of hang time.
  • avatar

    Stopping Forte is the key to winning the game. I agree with pinkstob on that one. Big backs have been the problem with the Bucs defense in the past. Devin Hester is a great weapon, and may get into the HOF as strictly a kick returner. But the Bucs have to stop Forte, and force Cutler to stand in the pocket behind that porous Bear pass blocking.
  • avatar

    I'm confident in Koenen, we should be fine. Pinkstob is right Forte has to be the focus.
  • avatar

    Not if we give Hester a footful - meaning Koenen must put the ball through the end zone on kick-offs and angle the ball out of bounds on punts. This is where Koenen will earn his FA money!
  • avatar

    He'll only be a handful if he gets the ball in his hands. It's not like AP where the QB hands him the ball directly on his runs so he's guaranteed to get touches. Hester will only return kicksoffs and punts if we kick it to him. He'll only catch TD's if Cutler can get the ball around Aqib. The only thing that worries me is quick passes to him at the line of scrimmages, end arounds and screens. I doubt they'll be calling those plays the whole game but so long as the defense is prepared for them they should be able to pull out a win. Oh, obviously containing Forte is vital to winning the game.
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