Ron Turner had a simple reaction when Devin Hester ended a two-day holdout and reported to training camp Friday morning. “Big smile,” the Bears offensive coordinator said.
Ron Turner had a simple reaction when Devin Hester ended a two-day holdout and reported to training camp Friday morning.
“Big smile,” the Bears offensive coordinator said.
“He needs to be here, needs to get to work and we need him to be here. Everyone’s happy. We’ll see where it goes.”
Hester still hasn’t received a new contract to replace the last two years of his four-year rookie deal, which will pay him $445,000 this year. But as long as the All-Pro kick returner, and potential No. 1 receiver, stays in camp and eventually gets signed, his two-day holdout will be quickly forgotten.
“He needs to practice, but I don’t think those two days are going to hurt him much,” quarterback Kyle Orton said. “There’s plenty of time, and he’s put in the work in the offseason, learning the playbook, working with the quarterbacks and trying to refine his route running.”
Tight end Greg Olsen, who was also a college teammate of Hester’s at Miami, called Hester’s return “huge.”
“He’s one of the guys who can change the game and be a huge impact for us,” Olsen said.
Tight end Desmond Clark called it “a big lift.”
“He’s the guy we are expecting to be the offensive jump-starter and make big plays for us,” Clark said. “It’s good to see him back on the field, getting the reps that he needs to get so he can be the playmaker we want him to be.”
Hester leads all Bears with 14 touchdowns the last two years, but his receiving experience is limited. He was drafted as a kick returner/defensive back, but the Bears switched him to offense after his rookie year. In spot receiving duty last year – Turner said the Bears taught him only four pass routes – Hester caught 20 passes for 299 yards, including touchdowns of 81 and 55 yards.
The Bears now want to convert him into their No. 1 receiver, which is why it was so important for Hester to be in training camp.
“I think he can do it,” Orton said, “but there’s a difference between being a great athlete and a great receiver. He’s really put the work into his route running. He has to run sharp routes and we need to know where he’s going to be. He’s put the work in. I really do think he’s going to be there.”
Well, he’s in training camp. That’s a start.
Rockford Register Star assistant sports editor Matt Trowbridge can be reached at: 815-987-1383 or email@example.com