The wiggly returner for the Chicago Bears holds the NFL record with 12 punt returns for a touchdown, and Vikings punter Chris Kluwe still has a figurine to prove one of those. A friend of Kluwe's tweaked him years ago when he painted a figurine of Kluwe diving unsuccessfully to get to Hester on one of his returns for a touchdown against the Vikings.
The memorabilia of sorts is back at Kluwe's house in California, but he has tried to use humor to help in dealing with his unfortunate plight.
"I face the best returner in the history of the game twice a year every year for eight years. It's part of the game," Kluwe said with a laugh. "I'm going to do my best to not let him return one and he's going to do his best to try to return one. That's the nature of competition."
Three of Hester's 12 punt returns for touchdowns have come at the expense of the Vikings. He also holds the fourth-best career punt-return average (12.4) in NFL history, although he is down to an 8.0-yard average this year.
But, despite his dip in average this year, the Vikings caution he can still be dangerous.
"I don't think he's having a poor year. I know his numbers aren't what they normally are, but he's only one return away from making his numbers be where they normally are. I just hope it's not against us," Vikings special teams coordinator Mike Priefer said.
Priefer called Chicago "probably the most difficult place in the league" to punt, and the reasons for that statement came out when asked why teams don't just punt it out of bounds every time Hester lines up for a punt return.
"It's more difficult outside because you might get a 20-yard punt and then your head coach is looking at you cross-eyed because you only got a 20-yard net on the play," Priefer said. "I think there's places and times in order to kick the ball out of bounds, whether it's at the end of the half or the end of the game. But overall you want to have confidence in your coverage teams. I think we've covered punts and kickoffs well all but two plays, I think for the most part, all year."
THE RIGHT GUARD
Free-agent acquisition Geoff Schwartz has been getting more playing time at right guard of late, but the Vikings insist a switch in starters isn't in the plan. Brandon Fusco still owns that distinction, as he has all year.
"We just want him to continue to improve and you improve by getting reps and he's still getting quality reps and we like to make sure that we're bringing Geoff along as well," head coach Leslie Frazier said. "But Brandon will continue to get better the more he plays."
Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave pointed to Fusco's youth and relative inexperience, both in the NFL and at guard. Fusco spent his college career at Division II Slippery Rock playing center. He played only 24 offensive snaps last year for the Vikings before becoming the starter for 2012.
Musgrave said Fusco needs to continue his "upward path," but the coordinator sees qualities he likes in the second-year guard.
"His ability to bend, he's a fantastic athlete," Musgrave said. "He's big, but he can bend his knees. He can be on balance when he's in a tough spot. He's a heck of an athlete."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.