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Bears not down on Hester, despite declining receiving numbers

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Dan Parr
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Posted April 01, 2011 @ 3:22 p.m. ET
By Dan Parr

After setting career highs in receptions and receiving yards in 2009, Bears WR Devin Hester's numbers dipped in '10. He made 40 catches for 475 yards, which were his lowest totals in those two statistical categories since he was first moved from defensive back to receiver in '07.

Chicago signed Hester to a contract that paid him like a high-impact receiver before the start of the '08 season, but he hasn't developed into a true No. 1, even though head coach Lovie Smith had insisted that he fit the bill. The Bears have not soured on Hester, though. Smith has said he wants to find ways to get Hester the ball more often next season, but the team is also mindful of keeping him fresh so that he's at full strength while returning kicks, where he always has stood out the most.

The NFL's new kickoff rules could limit Hester's opportunities to return kickoffs, but his punt-return chances will not be affected, and 10 of his NFL-record 14 career TD returns have come off of punts.

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