Bears-Vikings matchup of the day: Friday

Posted Dec. 17, 2010 @ 1:08 p.m.
Posted By Dan Parr

Here's a look at another key matchup heading into Monday night's battle between the Bears and Vikings.

Bears WR-RS Devin Hester vs. Vikings' kickoff and punt coverage

Hester didn't have a return for touchdown against Minnesota in Week 10, but he did put the offense in good field position, returning two kickoffs for 100 yards and two punts for 47 yards in Chicago's 27-13 win.

Vikings P Chris Kluwe aimed his punts toward the sideline in the game, but Minnesota's coverage unit didn't do a good job of tackling and the Bears executed their blocks well when Hester broke free for a 42-yard return in the third quarter. Head coach Leslie Frazier likely will tell Kluwe to punt toward the sideline again and try to keep it out of Hester's hands.

Ryan Longwell will try to boot the ball deep into or out of the endzone on kickoffs, but Hester will often attempt a return even if he catches the ball while backpedaling into the endzone. He did just that on 68-yard return against Minnesota in Week 10.

The Bears' offense is ranked 30th in the league, and the last thing the Vikings want to do is allow Hester, or Danieal Manning, who returns kickoffs when Hester needs a breather, to give it a spark with a long return.

While Hester had success against them in Round One, the Vikings are allowing just 5.6 yards per punt return and they haven't allowed a punt return for a TD. The Vikings' kickoff-return coverage has been a bit more porous — it's allowing 24.2 yards per return and has given up one TD.