By Adam Hoge-
HALAS HALL (CBS) When Marc Trestman said Devin Hester would work primarily with special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis, he wasn’t kidding.
The new coaching staff has made the decision that Hester is no longer a wide receiver and will instead concentrate on getting back to being one of the best return men in the NFL.
But that might not be his only role on special teams.
Hester has been working on the kickoff and punt coverage units the last two days during voluntary mini-camp, meaning the Bears might be asking him to make tackles for the first time since he was technically a defensive back when they drafted him.
“He’s definitely going to be fresher to do those things and that’s something we are evaluating right now,” DeCamillis said after Wednesday’s practice. “He’s still working on all those things. He’ll be working on all the cover teams and he’ll also be working on some other things for us too.”
Based on Hester’s lack of experience on coverage units and the risk of him getting hurt, it’s probably a longshot he would actually contribute in that fashion once the regular season starts, but DeCamillis wants to at least evaluate if he can do more than just return kicks and punts.
“The biggest thing about a great gunner sometimes is that he’s a guy who can get there the fastest,” DeCamillis said. “We had a guy in Denver a long time ago that was an Olympic sprinter named Sam Graddy. Sam wasn’t the best tackler in the world, but he sure caused a lot of fair catches.”
For what it’s worth, Hester appears to have put his unhappiness over Lovie Smith’s firing behind him as the coaches say he has bought in to his new role under the new regime.
“Change is hard for a lot of people,” DeCamillis said. “We all have to go through it in this league and I think he probably said too much at the start, but he’s in a great frame of mind right now. And we want to get him back to where he was and try to keep adding to where he’s been.”
Defense Stays The Same
While the Bears’ offense is getting used to a new system under Trestman, practice has been much easier on the defensive side of the football.
New defensive coordinator Mel Tucker hasn’t changed a whole lot. The Bears are still playing their normal 4-3 front with a Cover 1 or Cover 2 shell. In fact, the players even say most of the terminology is the same.
“It’s all about taking the ball away and getting to the quarterback,” Tucker said.
– It is interesting to watch the coaches during special teams coaching drills. As players get penalized more and more for using their helmets as weapons, the coaches are stressing the importance of getting their heads “across the bag” to avoid making head-to-head contact. By getting the head across, the first contact point is the shoulder.
– Trestman continues to be happy with the offensive players’ ability to absorb information. After having a few days to prepare for the first practice, the players only had one night to get ready for 75 new passing plays and 10 runs, according to the head coach. Despite that, the Bears only had to stop one play Wednesday before the snap because of an alignment problem.
“We had minimal, minimal error even in our alignments which is pretty impressive and a credit to these guys,” Trestman said.
– The coaching staff continues to push the players with a lot of information at a fast pace. And despite the fast pace of practice, Trestman said they’ll still only get through two and a half days of work when the third and final practice concludes Thursday. The league allows a total of five practices, but Trestman is only using three of them.
For now, they aren’t doing much correcting. After voluntary mini-camp concludes, the coaching staff will make evaluations and talk about corrections before next month’s OTAs start.
Thursday, Trestman will throw in more new plays, as well as new formations to existing plays.
For more Bears coverage throughout the season, follow Adam on Twitter at @AdamHoge.