Falcons-Bears matchup of the day: Friday

Posted Sept. 09, 2011 @ 2:23 p.m.
Posted By Dan Parr

Here's a look at a key matchup heading into Sunday's Week One battle between the Falcons and Bears.

Falcons special-teams coverage vs. Bears WR-RS Devin Hester

Falcons rookie Matt Bosher isn't going to have the luxury of easing into his debut as the Falcons' kickoff specialist and punter. He'll face one of the league's most dangerous kick returners right off the bat.

Bosher, a sixth-round pick, had his ups and downs in the preseason, and a miscue like a line-drive punt that doesn't give defenders much of a chance to get down the field could prove to be very costly against a returner as dangerous as Hester, who has an NFL-record 14 returns for a touchdown. The rule change this offseason — moving the kickoff yard line from the 30 to the 35 — will lead to more touchbacks, but Hester and Johnny Knox, who is expected to share time with Hester returning kickoffs, aren't going to take a knee on every kickoff they field in the endzone.

Unless Bosher kicks the ball out of the endzone, or out of bounds on a punt, the Falcons will not be safe from the threat of a long return.

Atlanta decided to let its previous punter, seventh-year veteran Michael Koenen, depart in free agency this offseason. Bosher was a much cheaper option, and the Falcons liked his versatility — he punted, placekicked and served as a holder at Miami (Fla.). Consistency could be an issue for him, though, especially early in his career.