On Nov. 9, 2014, a Bears were servile in a abyss early in a fourth quarter. The Packers had scored to go forward 55-7 in a diversion that eventually would sound a genocide knell for a Marc Trestman and Phil Emery regimes.
But then, a footnote: With 10:41 to play, former Canadian Football League star Chris Williams held a Packers kickoff a yard low in a finish zone, pennyless right during his 10-yard line, cut between dual blockers, juked Mason Crosby to a belligerent during his 44 and sprinted down a right sideline for a 101-yard touchdown.
“Shades of Devin Hester!” announcer Cris Collinsworth said, substantially vehement to have something engaging occur on a margin during a blowout.
Three years later, though, a Bears are still acid for Hester’s successor apparent.
Rookie Eddie Jackson could lapse punts for a Bears. (AP)
Williams’ play stays a Bears’ usually kick-return touchdown given they let Hester leave around giveaway group during a finish of a 2013 season. They’ve returned 101 kickoffs given Williams’ garbage-time touchdown — zero for a score.
Their punt-return success hardly has been better. When Eddie Royal returned a punt for a 65-yard measure in final season’s home opener opposite a Eagles, it was a Bears’ initial such measure given Hester’s departure. In a camber between a touchdowns, a Bears had been punted to 97 times.
Consider that they were trailing a Eagles 29-7 with about 5 mins left, and a Bears haven’t posted a applicable lapse touchdown given Hester’s final one wearing a wishbone C — an 81-yard punt lapse to tie a Redskins on Oct. 20, 2013.
Since then, a Bears’ lapse diversion has been zero special — distant from a game-changing advantage they enjoyed with Hester, who returned 5 kicks and 13 punts for scores in a unchanging deteriorate from 2006 to ’13. Hester, whose final Bears kick-return measure was Oct. 16, 2011, is out of football after personification for a Ravens and Seahawks final season.
The Bears’ 21.4 yards per kickoff lapse final year ranked 18th in a league, and their eight-yard punt-return normal was No. 19.
Touchdowns are about some-more than a male throwing a round — restraint and situational recognition play suggestive roles — though a Bears are branch to rookie returners to change a narrative.
Former Alabama reserve Eddie Jackson total to enter training stay as a odds-on favorite to lapse punts after bringing behind 11 for 253 yards and dual touchdowns as a senior.
“I have good vision,” Jackson said. “I’m means to see things and my team, as well. They played a large partial in that when we was during Alabama. Setting adult blocks. Seeing what alley we can take and what not to take, that approach to go. When to detonate full speed and when to delayed it down, only things like that.”
Jackson, who has a rod in his left leg after medicine in October, will have flourishing pains. The Bears are training 2016 seventh-round collect Daniel Braverman to lapse punts, too, after he struggled final preseason.
“Anytime that we have a rookie returner or anytime we have an fresh guy, there’s things that we gotta go through,” pronounced Jeff Rodgers, who was hired as a Bears’ special-teams coordinator one year after Hester’s departure. “The guys who are maestro returners — you’re going by a same thing with them, though somebody else has told them or you’ve told them a prior year.
“You know, there’s an accumulation of that knowledge. So there are things we’re going to have to go by with those guys. We do it each year, and hopefully we learn it quickly.”
Jackson’s associate fourth-round pick, North Carolina AT using behind Tarik Cohen, will be in a brew to lapse kicks — and maybe punts — frequently for a initial time given high school. The 5-6 Cohen estimated he had “eight or nine” lapse touchdowns in high propagandize before personification offense exclusively for a Aggies, an FCS team.
“I wish to do it a lot,” Cohen said. “I didn’t get a possibility to do it in college. . . . My manager also didn’t wish me to get hurt.”
His expansion curve, then, total to be steeper than Jackson’s.
“So far, so good,” Rodgers said. “It’s a small bit opposite when there’s 70,000 people in a stands and guys are using full speed during you. You can strengthen yourself, satisfactory locate and stuff, though that vigour environment, that’s because we have preseason games. That’s because we have practices: to try to put those guys in those environments and try to get those questions answered before it unequivocally means something in terms of win-loss record for your football team.”
Cohen won’t be alone. The Bears also have dual veterans who’ll contest for a kick-returner job: Deonte Thompson, who had 35 of a Bears’ 42 kickoff earnings final year, and former Rams using behind Benny Cunningham, whose 2,575 kick-return yards are a fourth-most in a NFL over a final 4 years.
Rodgers praised Cunningham’s strike change — his ability to stay adult after a strike — and called him a smart, tough worker.
“There’s a lot to like about what he does,” he said.
And a prolonged offseason to figure out who does it best.
“The guys that we’ve combined off a group [as rookies], it’ll be a good competition,” Rodgers said. “The many critical thing is [to] not conclude though comprehend what these guys do good and be means to pierce toward those earnings that lend to their ability set.
“Some guys are downhill, inside returners. Some guys some-more perimeter, misdirection. Whatever those things are, as stay goes on and things start to arrange themselves out, we’ve got to make certain that a rest of a guys can get used to restraint those forms of schemes.”
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