Recently in Devin Hester Category

To clear room for Devin Hester on the 80-man roster (he was on the reserve-did not report list), tight end Marcus Stone was placed on waivers, his agent John Owens said. The undrafted rookie from North Carolina State has 24 hours to clear. That leaves the Bears with four tight ends on the roster--veterans Desmond Clark and Greg Olsen, second-year player Fontel Mines and rookie fifth-round pick Kellen Davis.

BOURBONNAIS, Ill.--Devin Hester's resolve to sit out the entire 2008 season, if necessary, to get a new contract ended after two days of training camp.

The wide receiver arrived at training camp happy teammates reported at breakfast this morning, in time for a morning weightlifting session and today's 3 p.m. practice.

Hester shows up after accruing roughly $30,000 in fines for missing two days of practice.

Brandon Lloyd and Marty Booker ran with the first team at wide receiver Wednesday when Devin Hester was absent.

Today, the Bears will go through punt return drills for the first time.

Nathan Vasher, you're up. The veteran cornerback will be the first to field punts. He's been a backup for Hester the last two seasons. While he's yet to return a punt in a regular season game, he did return one during preseason last year. Vasher was an All-American choice as a punt returner at Texas in 2001 and holds some Longhorns records, a proud distinction considering he followed Eric Metcalf at the school. Metcalf is one of the best returners in NFL history.

Joe Theismann visited with Tom Waddle and Marc Silverman Wednesday morning on AM-1000 and shared some thoughts on the Bears. If nothing else, Theismann is opinionated.

CAN YOU DETERMINE THE BEST QUARTERBACK IN TRAINING CAMP PRACTICES?

THEISMANN: I think you can. I think because both of them have a body of work already, Kyle has a body of work; Rex has a body of work. I mean, they've both played for the Bears over the last three years in some way, shape or form. So you look at the performance of the football team over that period of time, so you have a starting point. And then what you do, it goes into open competition; completions, moving the football team, command of the huddle, all those things will play in. Efficiency of handoffs, all the little things that you really will get graded on that you can actually look at and physically right down numbers and say 'OK, you completed more passes in the red zone, you completed more passes here, the offense looked good under your command, the offense struggled under your command.' And you sit down and start to evaluate it, and that's basically what you're going to wind up doing.

You did not think it was possible, did you, that the Bears could come up with a way to upstage their quarterback derby.

Boy, did they. With linebacker Brian Urlacher present, and rookie first-round pick Chris Williams delivered on time, the franchise still found a way to have the QB shootout take a back seat.

If Devin Hester is looking for a boost in his bid for a new contract--he's next in line now that Brian Urlacher is signed, sealed and delivered--how about his status as a starting wide receiver?

Offensive coordinator Ron Turner said Tuesday that Hester and Brandon Lloyd will likely start with the first team at practice today. The duo did quite a bit of that during the offseason program and Turner said they'll probably get the nod ahead of Marty Booker and the long list of others including Mark Bradley. Hester is hoping to be paid top dollar as a receiver and this is a start.

Filtering through the notebook from Tuesday’s pre-draft session at Halas Hall ...

Maybe the most interesting nugget that didn’t involve a smokescreen was when special teams coordinator Dave Toub said he didn’t expect Devin Hester’s role to be reduced on special teams this season. Fact is, that mirrors what coach Lovie Smith said earlier in the month at the owners meetings in Florida. Smith said he would never take a player away from doing what he’s best at, and clearly being the game’s most dominant return man is Hester’s strength at this point.

The goal is for him to develop as a top receiver but that’s a work in progress.

“I’ve talked to Devin and I’ve talked to Lovie about it,’’ Toub said. ``Just having him line up on kickoff returns changes the mind set of the other team. I don’t think we’re going to see a situation where he’s not in there.

“If he’s a No. 1 receiver now, we’re projecting a lot of things, but if he is that guy then you’re going to look at it. But is he going to be that guy right now? I don't see that happening this year. That’s my personal view of it. Maybe down the road.’’

It was not surprise to spot agent Eugene Parker at Halas Hall this afternoon.

As expected, he made the trip to Lake Forest from his base in Indiana, showing up to discuss the future of wide receiver/returner Devin Hester with management.

Surely Parker’s arrival was relief for general manager Jerry Angelo, who was at least mildly irked by the barrage of questions centered on the face of the franchise, Brian Urlacher. That’s a face that is no doubt frowning in his contract staredown with the club. More on that situation later on.

If you can pull yourself away from the hand-wringing going on over Brian Urlacher’s contract demands, the Bears have turned their business focus to another player, Devin Hester.

The team and representatives for the returner/receiver have plans to discuss their situation this week, and a face-to-face meeting involving agent Eugene Parker is possible. The team got serious with the Rosenhaus brothers two weeks ago when they came to town to work on a deal for defensive tackle Tommie Harris. When those efforts stalled, the decision was made to move forward and laying the groundwork for a longterm extension for Hester, who is signed for two more seasons, is a top priority.

With the Bears headed East to work out Virginia guard Branden Albert next week, that just about completes a run through the top available linemen.

Albert has reportedly been climbing draft boards the last few weeks with many now projecting him as a left tackle. He has long arms and is agile on his feet with a background as a basketball player. The Bears will head in for a final look at him in the days leading up to the draft, a source said Wednesday.

So Albert will join Boise State’s Ryan Clady and Boston College’s Gosder Cherilus as prospects the team is known to have had private workouts with. The Bears were one of a handful of teams at a workout by Pittsburgh’s Jeff Otah last week, and the team is known to have gone into Nashville, Tenn., to check out Chris Williams of Vanderbilt. The Bears also attended the pro day at USC where Sam Baker worked out.

From Devin Hester’s mind to Deion Sanders’ lips ... or something like that.

Everyone knows the sensational return man has a close friend and confidant in Sanders, and his buddy did the talking for him appearing Tuesday on the NFL Network’s “Total Access.” Sanders was discussing the slate of games the league will televise, including the Week 15 meeting between New Orleans and Chicago Thursday, Dec. 11 at Soldier Field.

“Come on, the quarterback problems of the Chicago Bears are still there and then they gave away every receiver they had that was halfway decent,” Sanders said. “They’re looking for tremendous things from this guy, Devin Hester, but Devin Hester isn’t happy with his contract and he deserves to be paid amongst the league’s best.

“So I look at a myriad of problems for the Chicago Bears and they’ve got to address those issues now.”