AL HAMNIK: Devin Hester's return to ridiculousness is still pending

2013-09-15T20:00:00Z 2013-09-16T15:12:05Z AL HAMNIK: Devin Hester's return to ridiculousness is still pendingAl Hamnik Times Columnist
September 15, 2013 8:00 pm  • 

CHICAGO | Soon, they'll be wearing more Devin Hester No. 23 jerseys to Bears games.

If the kick return threat continues to star, his popularity will once again be off the charts.

Fading performances make it easy for the public to forget you, to shake its head with regret, when you no longer are a force in the game.

Devin Hester has approached the 2013 season like every game is his private Super Bowl, shaking off a mild slump that saw him think too much on each return, go horizontal instead of vertical, dance instead of dash.

If he is truly back, Bears field position couldn't be any better if it was over a gold vein or oil strike.

"Nothing's changed," Hester said after Sunday's 31-30 win over the Vikings. "(Sunday) was no confidence boost. I'm just happy they kicked it to me."

The Vikings most certainly aren't after Hester returned five kickoffs for a Bears' record 249 yards, setting up their first touchdown while averaging 49.8 per return.

"I was waiting around the 40-, 45-yard line just to cut off the angle," he said. "Coach (Marc) Trestman pounds it into us that we got to take advantage of opportunities."

In two games, Hester has now returned six kickoffs for 280 yards and I'm willing to bet he'll break a couple before this season goes into the books.

The odds are in his favor after being relieved of wide receiver duties which he never should've been given by the previous adminstration.

"My legs are like new. They were fresh the whole game, compared to playing 56 snaps on offense," Hester said.

"Every time I'm out there, I'm fresh and ready to go."

Now there's a dangerous thought.

Cordarrelle Patterson's 105-yard touchdown return on the opening kickoff didn't just light Hester's fire, it started a bonfire.

He promptly returned the Vikings' opening kickoff 76 yards to set up an eventual 7-7 tie.

"It (bleeped) me off, having someone come on my turf and take one to the house," Hester said flat out.

"I was determined, one way or another, take one all the way, too."

And he almost did with an 80-yarder in the second quarter to the Minnesota 23 on this drizzly Sunday.

The drive fizzled, but not his enthusiasm.

You would expect that from a human bullet who already holds the NFL's all-time record for career return touchdowns (17) and career punt return TDs (12).

"Every time I get my hands on the ball, it gives me an opportunity to make plays," Hester said.

"Believe me, I got my eyes on six (points)."

Devin Hester is smiling a lot more now.

Uh, oh. Look out.


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