Punt Return Job Filled

Chicago - Bobby Wade came back ready to make a statement against the Lions after spending Week 1 on the Inactive list. And what a statement it was, as he returned a punt 73 yards for a score.

"It all happened so fast," Wade said later in the locker room. "I was going to cut one way, then I noticed that three or four of our guys had formed a wedge and were clearing a path for me down the field. I stopped and pivoted, then headed in their direction. I still don't know who was out there blocking for me, but whoever it was, they did a fantastic job. Once I was headed in the right direction, I had no doubt that I'd reach the end zone."

The third year player took a punt from Detroit's Nick Harris and went the distance to extend the Chicago lead to 17-6.

Wade had four punt returns for TDs in college, but as far as he was concerned, getting a long return in the NFL topped them all.

"College is one thing, the pros is something else entirely," Wade said. "Sure I got a thrill out of returning for the points as an undergrad, but this was really special. Just knowing that I was able to get by all of Detroit's top special team defenders made the run that much better."

Wade's 42 receptions last year tied for the team lead among receivers. With an improved receiving corps, returning punts provides an opportunity to be active on Sunday's.

"I know, people will laugh wondering who in the heck can get worked up over punt returns. But truthfully, I do love the returns and I always have," Wade said. "Special teamwork is fun and it can turn the tide of a game. I feel that is the one place a player with skills such as I have can make a real difference. Remember the shift in mood of the crowd when I got to the end zone today? It energized the stadium. That gave the team fuel to do more good things. The fans feed off of positive production and the players feed off of the fans' enthusiasm."

Although five-foot-10, 186-pounder may not be blessed with sprinters speed or the size to a physical player, he has the attributes that make him a natural punt returner.

"I'm not that big compared to a lot of the guys, but I'm fast and I can make good cuts. I have good field vision as well. That helped me a lot today," Wade said. "I could see Detroit coming at me from one part of the field, but then I could also see the way clear just a little further down. You need to be able to find those holes quickly and get to them while they are still open if you want to make an impact. Quick decisions are the lifeblood of a punt returner. And the more I'm in there, the better I'll get."

And how was it to be so successful with former Bear punt returner R.W. McQuarters on the field?

"So sweet," Wade said. "I like R.W. a lot but getting this while he's right there watching, and with Detroit's Pro Bowler (Eddie) Drummond looking on as well, heck that was the best part of my day."

Wade's only disappointment today was that he had yet to catch up with his TD ball.

"I handed it to somebody on the sidelines. I was so happy that I wasn't paying real close attention to where it went. I'm hoping that whoever has it will return it to me. That's a souvenir I want to be sure to keep."

While Wade said he had ‘no idea' why he had been named inactive against the Redskins, he did his best not to be in uniform again.

"A little extra motivation never hurts though. I never want to be listed as inactive again, that's for sure, so I was determined to do the best I possibly could when I was out there on the field. That's all that any player can do. If you get an opportunity, take it and show what you can do. You never know when, or even if, you'll get that chance again.

"I figure that everything happens for a reason. Maybe it was just my time to sit back and reassess somewhat."

The coaching staff can say the same for their decision to sit Wade.


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