As the special teams coordinator for the Panthers and Broncos, Jeff Rodgers had to prepare for Devin Hester.
“I’d say (he) changed the game both kickoffs and punts,” he said of the former Bears great, who retired Tuesday. “He’s the best that’s ever done it. Elite skill set. …
“I was across the sideline several times, and you’re holding your breath. There’s been nobody like him in my generation. He was really the first guy that you really game-planned for, and you saw different people take different approaches.”
With the Panthers in 2010, Rodgers told his punter to kick it out of bounds. Hester, he said, caught it “four inches from the sideline” and ran straight up the line. With the Broncos the next year, Rodgers’ Broncos got Hester to fair catch four-straight punts before he made a spectacular play, catching a punt along the right sideline, running in a tight circle, breaking left pointing out defenders to his blockers and running for a 26-yard gain.
“He kinda circled around, went backwards, sideline, all of a sudden he turned a corner and you’re holding your breath,” Rodgers said. “We were able to get him on the ground, but he’s a game-changer.”