Devin Hester is at a crossroads. A new coach, new offensive coordinator and a long list of missed opportunities have definitely left him in an odd spot.
As Sickel points out, Hester is undeniably the best kick returner the league has ever seen. His presence behind the defense, awaiting the ball, changes how the opposition kicks and sets up for a return.
Where he has failed repeatedly has been in the transition to wide receiver.
Actually you can't even call it a transition anymore because he's been at it for his whole career.
At this point, he's just a mediocre receiver.
Now those of you who read the NFC North pieces know I'm not a huge Hester fan. That said, he could be so much more than he is.
Sickel rightfully points to players like Green Bay's Randall Cobb as someone Hester might emulate—I'd take it a step further and say the way Cobb is used is one the Bears should emulate in their use of Hester.
He's never going to be an incredible route runner; he's not going to gain the sort of separation you need from someone who is a true vertical threat.
But get the ball in his hands and he can make defenders miss and break big plays.
Why not do more to use him in unique ways? Line him up in the backfield, concentrate some passes to him short or on screens or simple crossing routes.
Get the ball in his hands and see what happens.
He's not going to be Cobb—he'll never be that polished.
But he's in the last year of his contract and the cost is a relatively cap-friendly $2.9 million—certainly something the team can lay out for one more year.
Hester will never be what the team—and he—envisioned when he crossed over from defensive back to wide receiver.
He can certainly produce more than he has the last three years, though, and it's worth the effort on the part of the Bears.
On to more NFC North news.
The Bears' director of physical development is retiring and the Chicago Tribune's Dan Pompei takes a look at what his impact has been on strength and conditioning for the Bears and the league.
Michael Wright of ESPNChicago.com is previewing the Bears' potential targets and needs in free agency—today he takes on the safeties.
Anwar Richardson of MLive.com reports that there was absolutely no trade value for former receiver Titus Young, which should come as a shock to zero of the people reading this sentence.
The Free Press' James Jahnke has compiled a slideshow of 16 players the Lions could draft with the No. 5 overall pick in this April's draft.
CheesheadTV's Zach Kruse has compiled some notes on who has the Packers taking what player with their first-round pick.
The Journal-Sentinel's Tyler Dunne says that the future is cloudy for Jermichael Finley's chances to remain in Green Bay.
With Cris Carter now heading to Canton, Mike Wobschall of Vikings.com wonders who could be the next Viking to make it into the Hall of Fame.
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