Bears’ Devin Hester won’t be changing routine after ‘10 success
By NEIL HAYES firstname.lastname@example.org July 7, 2011 9:04PM
Bears returner and receiver Devin Hester is sticking with the same offseason routine that brought him success in 2010. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: July 21, 2011 3:59PM
Devin Hester changed his workout routine before last season and was pleased with the results.
After not scoring on a kick return or punt return during the 2008 and ’09 seasons, he returned three punts for touchdowns last season, breaking the NFL record for career return touchdowns with a 64-yarder against the Minnesota Vikings on Dec. 20.
This offseason has been strange for everyone because of the league-imposed lockout, but Hester is following the same regimen that he credits for much of his success in 2010. That means he’s spending less time lifting weights and more time training on a track to make sure his legs are in condition to excel as a returner and receiver.
That’s especially important in an offense designed by coordinator Mike Martz that requires receivers to have explosive speed as well as endurance.
‘‘It’s been more running still, more focus on the lower body, just keeping my legs strong and staying in shape,” Hester said Thursday after the first day of his two-day kids camp at Lincoln-Way Central. ‘‘That’s the nature of our offense. The biggest thing is to come back in shape. That’s what me and the guys have been trying to do.’’
Hester has been working out with quarterback Jay Cutler and other offensive skill-position players several times a week for much of the offseason, but he said the mental and physical reps aren’t the same as they would be under the supervision of coaches. Organized team activities and minicamps were cancelled as a result of the lockout.
He also said Cutler is showing no ill effects after tearing his medial collateral ligament in the Bears’ loss to the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game in January.
‘‘He looks good,’’ Hester said. ‘‘It’s the same Jay.’’
The Bears’ offense must continue to evolve if the team is going to contend for a second straight NFC North title, let alone compete with the defending Super Bowl champion Packers.
Martz’s unit finished 30th in yards and 21st in points last season and was anemic against the Packers in the regular-season finale and the NFC title game, failing to score a touchdown in the six quarters that Cutler played in.
‘‘Their offense struggled with us, too,’’ Hester said. ‘‘They only put up [24 offensive] points against us. It’s a two-way situation. When you have a great defense like they do and like we do, it comes down to two or three big plays in a game that determine the outcome.’’
Hester is confident that when the lockout ends and training camp begins, the offense will benefit from the experience gained under Martz last season.
‘‘The biggest thing is we’re now a year into the system,’’ he said. ‘‘We did actually start clicking toward midseason and throughout, so that was good.
‘‘Now the goal is to finish where we started and really pick it up and be more advanced with it.’’