There was a lot of concern when the Bears converted Devin Hester to a full-time wide receiver. The worries weren’t that Hester wouldn’t develop into a solid receiver. No, the concerns were that he’d no longer be the top kick-return man in the NFL.
Judging from last year, those concerns were valid. Hester went from being the most feared returner in the game to one who spent an inordinate amount of time running backwards, fumbling or getting dropped for a loss. And to top it all off, Hester, though he turned into a solid receiver, wasn’t exactly an all-star at his new position, either.
It hardly seemed worth it to make the change.
Today, the Bears say that Hester will become a true number-one receiver, especially with strong-armed Jay Cutler throwing to him. Bears officials envision Hester routinely streaking down the sidelines, snagging balls and racing to the endzone.
Problem is, it’s hard to picture Hester ever being a better receiver than he once was a kick returner.
Chicago Tribune writer David Haugh addresses this issue in today’s paper. He writes that it’s essential for Hester to commit equally to returning punts as he has to catching passes.
I’d agree with Haugh that Hester has to commit to returning punts. But I’d disagree with the catching passes part. Hester should never have been turned into a wide receiver. By doing so, the Bears simply took their greatest strength for two years and turned it into a weakness while barely upgrading the wide-receiver position.