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Hester May Be Taken Off Kick Return Duties in 2012

The Chicago Tribune reports that this may be the season where one of the all-time kick returners – Devin Hester, may finally be taken off the return team.

The addition of Eric Weems and Devin Thomas, two players with experience as kickoff returners, has the left the Chicago Bears with an interesting question: Should Devin Hester be relieved of all kickoff-return duties in 2012? “We have that versatility now,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said.

“We added another good player into the (kick-return) mix in Devin Thomas.” The Bears had the luxury of limiting Hester’s kickoff returns during the 2009 season, when Johnny Knox and Danieal Manning combined for 60 returns. Hester had just seven kickoff returns that year as he caught a career-high 57 passes. The Bears seem even more intent on making Hester an integral part of the offense at wide receiver — even despite the addition of top target Brandon Marshall — which is likely to encourage them to limit or totally eliminate Hester’s work on kickoffs.

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