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Dave Toub remains sold on Devin Hester’s game-breaking ability on returns

Updated: November 27, 2012 11:11AM

Special-teams coordinator Dave Toub took Devin Hester off kick returns in the second half against the Lions on Monday. But he hasn’t lost any faith in his record-setting kick returner.

Hester returned one punt for five yards. He fair-caught two other punts, including one in the fourth quarter that appeared tailor-made for a big return. Even Hester ‘‘looked right over at the sideline’’ after that one, Toub said.

‘‘We’ve been through this before, then all of a sudden he’ll come out of it and get three in a row. So we’re not going to hit the panic button,’’ Toub said. ‘‘His decision-making has to be better. One small decision ... instead of fair-catching it, it’s a touchdown — and everybody knows it.’’

Hester will be back returning kicks against the Panthers. He returned a punt 69 yards for a touchdown against Carolina last season. He had a 50-yard punt return against the Panthers in 2010.

‘‘One thing about Devin I’ve learned over the years,’’ Toub said, ‘‘is if he gets off to a good start, he’s pretty much dangerous the whole game.’’

Cutler practices

Jay Cutler, recovering from bruised ribs, had full participation in practice Thursday and is expected to start against the Panthers on Sunday at Soldier Field.

Alshon Jeffery (broken hand) was the only regular who did not practice. He is not expected to play Sunday.

For the Panthers, defensive end Charles Johnson (hip) was limited in practice.

He asked for it

After Warren Moon complained that Cam Newton was too often compared to black quarterbacks, linebacker Brian Urlacher compared Newton to a white guy, but it probably won’t soothe Moon’s feelings.

Asked if there’s anybody he’s faced that compares in size and speed to Newton, Urlacher mentioned the Buccaneers’ Josh Freeman. And then ...

‘‘Ryan Leaf — tall and fast,’’ Urlacher said before pausing.

‘‘No,’’ he continued, chuckling. ‘‘There’s not a lot of guys like [Newton]. There’s a lot of guys that run fast but aren’t quite the height that he is or faster at the same time. Take your pick.’’

Instant special teams

Less than a week after joining the team, Zack Bowman filled in for injured special-teamer Sherrick McManis and made an impact with a fumble recovery of a muffed punt and two tackles.

‘‘Zack, off the street, came in here and filled a role,’’ Toub said. ‘‘We needed him bad because Sherrick was down. It was an outstanding performance. Big-time tackle, falling on the ball on the takeaway. He did a good job blocking, too.’’

McManis is expected to return this week, which likely will put Bowman on the sideline against Carolina.

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