LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- On more than one occasion this week Lovie Smith went out of his way to mention the Bears' slow start in the return game.
Granted, Devin Hester only has seven total returns (five kickoffs, two punts) after two weeks, but just like the Bears depend on turnovers on defense, the club counts on Hester to provide them with solid field position, not to mention the occasional touchdown. The new NFL rule which allows teams to kickoff from the 35-yard line doesn't help the situation, however, three players have already returned a kickoff for a score (Percy Harvin, Randall Cobb, Ted Ginn), so opportunities do exist.
Hester returned two kickoffs for 47 yards and one punt for minus-four yards in the 30-13 loss in New Orleans.
"I just know that return game-wise we have to get it going," Smith said. "We haven't gotten any production from punt return and kickoff return, but with Devin Hester the greatest returner of all time back there, it's just a matter of time. Hopefully it'll be this week."
The good news is Hester picked this exact spot last season to re-emerge as the most dangerous special teams threat in the league. After failing to tally a return touchdown in 2008 and 2009, Hester broke free and returned a punt 62-yards for a score in the 20-17 victory over Green Bay at Soldier Field in Week 3 of the 2010 regular season.
The Bears are looking for a repeat performance this Sunday.
"[I'm] very anxious," Hester said. "This has been something that I've been living and dying off of – the return game. Right now, we haven't been hitting the home runs the past two games. But hopefully this week we can pick it up and start back to where we used to be.
"This is my sixth year, and I know that you have to be patient in situations like that. You can't over think or try to force things to happen. That's when you make mistakes. I'm just being patient, so when it comes, it comes."