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Bears’ Devin Hester gets another slot shot vs. Packers

DevHester caught five passes for 39 yards against Vikings but had crucial drop. | Andy King~AP

Devin Hester caught five passes for 39 yards against the Vikings but had a crucial drop. | Andy King~AP

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Updated: January 17, 2013 6:49AM

With Earl Bennett sidelined against the Vikings, the Bears lined up Devin Hester as the slot receiver, a position many have clamored for him to play in the past.

And Hester could only imagine the reaction if he’d have caught that 23-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter last Sunday in Minneapolis.

“If I would have made that catch, it would have been blown up that this should have been my home in the slot,” Hester said, ‘‘that this is where I needed to be from the start.”

Hester debuted in the slot, where receivers can work the middle of the field and find space, playing most of his 50-plus snaps there. Eight passes were targeted for him, and he caught five for 39 yards.

But the drop on third-and-six in the fourth was the one spotlighted most as the Bears’ comeback bid fell short. On the next play, receiver Brandon Marshall dropped a pass, as well, but his catch was far more difficult than Hester’s.

With Bennett ruled out for the game against the Packers, Hester will work the slot again. He’s hoping to feel more comfortable after only practicing two days as a slot receiver, and he thinks the position does suit him.

“It’s a position I feel comfortable with, and I can use my talent there more, with my quickness and speed,” Hester said. “Just the more reps you get, the more comfortable you’ll be.”

Hester said Bennett and Marshall, who has a command of the offense, helped him quickly transition to the slot.

Receivers coach Darryl Drake said Hester graded out very high, except on the play he dropped the ball.

“I was proud of Devin,” Drake said. “He played a whole new position, and he looked really good in there.”

Hester said he has shaken off the drop.

“I got to let it go,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s a tough pill to swallow, but I got to move on.”

Hester said he’s excited about the game against the Packers, likening it to the 2010 season, when the Bears were in control of the division.

“Kind of the other way around,” he said. “Maybe there will be an opportunity for us to win this and face them again in the playoffs.”

The Bears had four drops against the Vikings, but Marshall said the team’s receivers would bounce back.

“We’ve got the guys in that room that really can carry our offense,’’ Marshall said. ‘‘We also let the team down this past weekend. We had some crucial drops that could have changed the game. That falls on us, that falls on me being one of the leaders in that room, and we have to change it now.”

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