There was a time when Devin Hester looked like he was on the roster bubble — would the Bears really keep him on the 53-man roster as solely a kick returner?
A lot has changed.
Right now, I would be very surprised if Hester doesn’t make the team. Hester has embraced his specialized role and the Bears are seemingly pleased with how he’s handled himself.
The Bears also seem OK with having four specialists on their roster. And really, the benefits of keeping Hester and seeing if he can return to form definitely outweigh any benefits you get from cutting him.
Don’t forget that last years’ 53-man roster began with four specialists. The Bears kept punter Ryan Quigley with Adam Podlesh sidelined.
Plus, it helps that Hester has a huge fan in special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis.
“For the most part when you look at it around the league, most everybody’s keeping a returner,” DeCamillis said. “He might be the fifth receiver, but he’s a returner. So it’s not that huge of a deal.
“But [Hester is] one of the best of all time, so hopefully we can get him back to that level he’s been at in the past. He’s been great to work with for sure.”
There’s no denying that Hester has looked more like his old self this preseason. He’s returned three kickoffs for a total of 72 yards.
DeCamillis also was pleased with how he handled a punt against the Oakland Raiders on Friday.
“I thought the other night he saved us a first down,” DeCamillis said. “It was a one-yard return, but I gave him a big pat on the back for that one because that saved us at least 20 yards. Their guy punted it poorly and he put himself in position to save us at least a first down, maybe two.”
Does it look Hester has his game-changing burst back?
“Yes,” DeCamillis said.