When Devin Hester was signed over the offseason, most believed he would simply continue his mastery as a special teams’ star.
But evidently, that was never the complete plan.
“(Wide receivers coach) Terry (Robiske) told Devin when he got here, ‘It ain’t just special teams. You’re going to be a receiver,’” said receiver Julio Jones.
The plan paid off in week one, as Hester helped quarterback Matt Ryan have a record-setting performance. Hester had 99 of Ryan’s 448 yards in the air. Not bad for a guy that didn’t have one receiving yard for the Bears last season.
The game was also Hester’s best receiving performance since October 25, 2009, when he caught eight passes for 101 yards. That was the only time Hester surpassed the 99 yards in one game. His best season as a receiver for Chicago was 2009, when he had 757 yards. Hester had 665 receiving yards the season before in 2008.
But can he be a consistent threat for the Falcons? He’s had the type of success as a kick returner in his career that teams would be stupid to not respect him when he’s on the field. Plus, now that Hester has proven with the one game that he can still catch the ball from the quarterback, he is the Falcons’ new fourth receiver.
Hester’s contribution has caught Jones’ attention.
“He comes in and makes great plays for us,” Jones said. “He’s a veteran. He runs great routes. He’s got great hands. He’s very elusive when he’s out there in the field. When you’ve got one guy on Devin Hester, he’s going to make them miss. He can take it to the house.”
That’s what the Falcons hope he can do. Hester may simply replace Tony Gonzalez’s production. While tight end Levine Toilolo did make three catches for 19 yards Sunday, he won’t be a threat until he proves he’s a serious pass-catcher. But Hester is someone that must be taken seriously each time he’s on the field.
With Jones and Roddy White healthy, and Harry Douglass being the best third receiver in the NFL, the Falcons are in position to have a record-setting season on offense if everyone stays healthy. Sure, they might not have 448 receiving yards every game, but it will be interesting to see what this passing game can do once it plays an elite offense. And Hester’s presence on the field as the fourth receiving will make that job even more complicated for the competition.
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Hester becomes yet another threat for Ryan
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