Updated: August 17, 2014 2:37AM
Replacing Devin Hester has become as difficult as tackling him in the open field.
Eric Weems had his chances in two preseason games — six kickoff returns for 139 yards and two fair catches on punts — and the Bears apparently weren’t impressed. Weems was cut Saturday to make room for wide receiver Santonio Holmes.
“We’re not feeling good about our kickoff-return and punt-return game,” coach Marc Trestman said Friday. “We’ve got to do better.”
Weems lost a fumble on a kickoff return Thursday against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
“Anytime you fumble the football, it’s not a good day,” Weems said. “Putting the ball on the ground doesn’t help me. It doesn’t help my case at all.”
Weems, who accepted a pay cut in April, was a proven special-teamer, especially in coverage. But the Bears needed Weems to excel at returner and receiver, and he did neither. The offseason additions of linebacker Jordan Senn and safety Danny McCray made him expendable.
Weems isn’t solely at fault. The Bears are returning deep kicks during the preseason that they wouldn’t in a regular-season game so the return teams can get work blocking live competition.
“Part of it is we just haven’t come together collectively,” Trestman said. “It could be one guy. . . . But we’re not where we want to be, no doubt about it. We have to go back to work. We’ve got to continue to develop this group of new core players that we have, and that will start this week.”
With Weems gone, Chris Williams, Micheal Spurlock, Michael Ford and Armanti Edwards remain in the mix at returner. In two preseason games, Spurlock has five punt returns for nine yards and a 19-yard kickoff return. Ford has returned two kicks 30 and 19 yards.
Williams, a former Canadian Football League star returner and receiver, remains an intriguing option. He has been out with a minor hamstring injury, which he suffered on a 73-yard touchdown reception in the Bears’ first exhibition against the Philadelphia Eagles. His speed stands out.
“You did see the speed on that catch,” special-teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis said recently. “Hopefully, we can get that [going] in the kicking game.”