Devin Hester helped shed some light on his role for the 2014 Falcons, and like most believed, the Falcons are not going to try to turn Hester into a full-time wide receiver.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's D. Orlando Ledbetter interviewed Hester about his expected role:
"My role is going to be pretty much kickoff and punt return," Hester said. "I’ll take over full responsibility of that duty, and as far as on offense here and there."
It probably would have been asking too much of a 31-year-old player to focus on a position he heavily struggled with in Chicago. In fact, Hester usually performed best returning punts and kicks when he was not spending his time trying to learn a position he never really played. If you thought Hester would push Harry Douglas, you may have gotten your hopes up too much.
The Falcons are smart to allow Hester to do what he does best, which is provide his electric return skills to a return game that has struggled to produce outside of brief stretches with Allen Rossum and Eric Weems.
Falcons wide receiver coach Brian Robiskie seems ready to give Hester some opportunities and move the speedster around the offense.
"Chicago did a good job with him (earlier in his career), moving him around and doing some things with him," Robiskie said. "I think we’ll do the same. To sit down and say, he’s going to be a slot or he’s going to be an outside (receiver) … we are going to try to move him around and match him up on some people and hopefully see if we can get some mismatches."
Expect Hester to have a handful of catches, maybe a bit better than Weems' 11 catch 2011. In Chicago, Hester had averaged under two catches a game since the 2010 season before he was relegated to strictly special teams in 2013.
Hester averaged 27.6 yards per kick and 14.2 yards per punt in 2013, and hopefully will give our long struggling returns a nice jolt in 2014.