The return of the returner: Bears’ Hester says he feels energized
BY ADAM L. JAHNS email@example.com June 12, 2013 9:39PM
Updated: July 15, 2013 7:23PM
The oft-stated offseason plan for Devin Hester was to focus on being the Bears’ kick returner. General manager Phil Emery and coach Marc Trestman said it months ago and repeated it again this week.
But there was Hester in a backpedal, covering a receiver Wednesday during the second day of minicamp at Halas Hall. He took a turn during a drill that matched defensive backs against receivers.
“Yeah,” Hester said afterward. “I was just out there playing around.”
And that’s just it. Hester said he’s still having fun even though he has been relegated to watching from the sideline with other specialists for long stretches at practice.
Does he ever look at the receivers and wish he was still working with them like he did under former coach Lovie Smith?
“Nah, I’m past that,” Hester said. “It’s a new season. I’m looking forward to what Coach has in mind for me this year.”
Again, that’s returning to form as the NFL’s best return man. In that regard, Hester said he feels rejuvenated.
“I’m having fun,” Hester said. “I feel more energized, more in shape as far as my legs being fresh by limiting some of my reps. It reminds me of my first two years.”
Veteran defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis didn’t participate in minicamp after agreeing to a deal with the Bears on Tuesday. But he did get a chance to take in Trestman’s up-tempo practice.
Ellis sees himself as more of a three-technique defensive tackle and said the Bears’ scheme appealed to him.
“Mainly, it was because of the way I know their defensive line plays,” said Ellis, who started 70 games over five seasons with the New Orleans Saints. “They allow their guys to do what defensive linemen are supposed to do, and that’s rush the passer, get sacks and put pressure on the quarterback while playing the run on the way. I haven’t had the chance to do that the last couple of years.”
Ellis predicted his production would increase in Chicago because of it. He said the Saints’ “schemes did not quite suit my talents, and that showed in production.”
“I’m almost guaranteeing that [my production] will [increase] because this is the style of defense that caters to defensive linemen getting up the field and playing fast,’’ Ellis said, ‘‘which is what I got drafted for in , and the last couple years I haven’t been able to do that as much. Now I’ll have my chance.”
Rookie Marquess Wilson (hamstring) is the latest receiver to be sidelined, joining Alshon Jeffery (hamstring) and Brandon Marshall (hip surgery in January).
“[Wilson] had a tweak, a light ham, so we kept him out,” Trestman said.
“We’re being very prudent with Brandon, and . . . Alshon tweaked his hamstring last week on a long ball.
‘‘We’re just trying to be mindful and make sure they’re healthy as we move into training camp, with this month behind us.”