Chicago Sun-Times

Hester would love to get a kick out of the Colts

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INDIANAPOLIS--Devin Hester did something that's even difficult for Hollywood to pull off.

He made the sequel as good as the original.

So on the verge of several significant NFL records with the start of his third season tonight here at Lucas Oil Stadium, what's next?

"I'm not going to make any predictions on that,'' special teams coordinator Dave Toub said. "Not with the bloops and squibs and punts out of bounds were getting now. It's probably highly unlikely.''

Colts coach Tony Dungy said last week his team will have no choice to kick it to Hester a few times in the game. His preference is to make him be on the run when he fields any kicks or punts. Toub thought he had seen it all as each week went by last season and then he encountered another gimmick, another strategy designed to stymie Hester. Now, he thinks he's seen it all, well, everything but an onside kick. That's next.

"It will probably be like we ended the year last season," Toub said of his expectations for 2008. "Probably very similar. They will be [punting] out of bounds, trying to kick away from him, trying to set him up one way or the other. They will be kicking off to other people, try to make Devin move, try kicking into the corners. Onside kicks. We haven't seen one of those yet and I've got a feeling it's going to happen."

But don't rule out another banner season as a return man for Hester. Toub didn't think his repeat performance in 2007 was possible.

"We knew he was good," he said. "But to do what he did two years ago that means the guy is special. And we talked about him being special the first year but to do it two years in a row, that's unreal."

He could get off to a banner start. The Colts ranked 31st in special teams last season. Indianapolis has a big chunk of its salary cap tied up in players like Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Bob Sanders and Dwight Freeney. There isn't as much room for the middle man on this roster, the kind of veteran player who excels at special teams. With so much youth and inexperience at the bottom of the roster, it makes special teams a more difficult role to fill.

And here's Hester in his own words last week:

HAVE YOU WATCHED YOUR SUPER BOWL TOUCHDOWN RETURN LATELY?

"We did watch it, but we basically looked at all the preseason games and the last four games of the season last year just to kind of find out their weaknesses and try to pick on them."

TONY DUNGY SAID THEY'RE GOING TO MAKE YOU MOVE AROUND. HOW PREPARED ARE YOU FOR ALL ODD KICKS YOU'LL SEE?

"I've been doing this for two years now, preparing for all the squib kicks and all the other kind of kicks. But basically as a special teams unit we prepare for it and we're ready for it. So we know that we're going to get funky kicks and crazy kicks, so I feel very confident in the game plan and we're going to go with it."

WHAT IS YOUR MIND SET GOING INTO THE SEASON WITH AN INCREASED WORKLOAD AS A RECEIVER?

"I feel like I've prepared for it up to this moment. I went to practice and conditioned myself and I feel like this is what I've got to go through every week, so let me prepare for it every day. I've just been working hard and hopefully when game time comes we'll step up and make plays like we normally do."

HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO WATCH THE SUPER BOWL? YOU DID WELL BUT THE TEAM LOST?

"Our special teams unit stepped up that day. Coach Lovie [Smith] and coach Dave asked for a big return and we gave them one. Unfortunately, we weren't able to win the game. But you live and you learn. We learned our weaknesses and the mistakes that we made during the course of the game. So we prepared for it and now we're ready for it."

WHAT WERE YOU THINKING WHEN LINED UP FOR THE OPENING KICKOFF IN THE SUPER BOWL?

"I was just thinking we might have one or two shots to return a kick, so whenever we get an opportunity let's try to make the best of it."

DID YOU WATCH THE SUPER BOWL GAME AFTER THE OPENING KICKOFF?

"After the Super Bowl game was over, probably for a week or two it dwelled on me. I watched it several times, but after that you want to forget about it and prepare for this season. Hopefully we go back to the Super Bowl this year and win it."

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on September 7, 2008 10:33 AM.

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