The record-setting return man phenomenon says he suffered “a little torn cartilage” in his rib area – though he feels the injury’s improving and is planning to test it out Sunday, it’s one of those nagging injuries that could get even worse. “If I go out there and it’s not healed all the way then I could damage it even more,’’ Hester said. “I am trying to get as much treatment as I can and hopefully I will be ready.” “I am pushing for it,’’ he said. “I’m feeling a lot better so I am hoping by the end of the week I will have no pain or anything like that.” Hester asked for advice from both Kyle Orton and running backs coach Tim Spencer, as they’ve went through identical situations and know how it feels. Causing more concern, #23 could not even breathe properly for two days.
While Hester went off on the cart, he tried his best to play through the injury: “Earlier in the game I landed on [my side] kind of funny on a tackle and it knocked the wind out of me a little bit,’’ Hester said. “But I didn’t show it. I got up and played it off. Later on in the game [on the kickoff return], I tried to make a move on the sideline and it popped.” With all the electrifying moves he performs that makes him so elusive and hard to bring down – this injury may take its toll and effect his ability to make defenders miss: “From what they have said, it’s basically true: It’s a painful injury,” Hester said. “Your movement comes from your core. And that’s where the injury is.” Keep in mind that Hester has played in all 34 games of his NFL career.
Final Thoughts: Whether Hester plays or not, I’m interested to see how much of a “warrior” he is in trying to play through the obvious pain. How much does he want it? You can sort out the pro’s and con’s of Hester playing and Hester not playing – but come game-time Sunday we will find out for sure how tough of a customer he really is. Frankly, I don’t believe we need him against Tampa, though it’d be nice for him to develop chemistry with Orton. The team has to be thinking long-term solution in this serious of a situation. On the flip side, the news that Hester’s injury doesn’t require any surgery or him being out any long period of time is the greatest relief and victory. With the Bears struggling to score on offense, go deep, and their love for 3 & outs, you cannot place a precise “tag of significance” or emphasize enough what he means to the team because of how he greatly impacts the all-important field of position battle. As you saw against Carolina, the team could not overcome bad field position in the 2nd half. Lastly, if Hester cannot give it a “go” you will see Danieal Manning returning kicks and for now, Nate Vasher returning punts – though I’m lobbying for Earl Bennett to see some playing time not only as a return man, but as a wide receiver too – he is our most talented pass catcher.