Eric Weems has an opportunity to step up this weekend.
As Peggy Kusinski reported on Thursday, Devin Hester will be out for Sunday's game. This means Eric Weems and Earl Bennett will have to step up on kick and punt returns. Are the Bears in good hands?
Like Hester, Weems has been to a Pro Bowl for his return skills. He had two returns for touchdowns in four seasons in Atlanta. His career average on kickoffs is 25.3 and 10.6 on punt returns. He also has the support of special teams coordinator Dave Toub.
Weems stepped in on Sunday after Hester left the field with a concussion during the Bears win over the Vikings, and Toub was happy with his start.
“It was good to get him in there and knock the dust off,” said Toub to ChicagoBears.com. “I expect him to be a lot better this week. I expect him to take a little more of a jump and hit the ball a little bit faster up the field. He’s excited about the opportunities he’s going to get this week.”
This is Weems' first shot at being the Bears' main return man, but as Toub pointed out, it won't be his first time contributing on special teams. Weems is just behind special teams ace Blake Costanzo on special teams tackles.
“He’s been a leader for us. He and Blake go back and forth and they are always competing: 'Who made the tackle? Who is getting doubled? Who isn’t?’ It’s a lot of fun as far as the coverage goes and it’s good to get Weems in the return game.”
One of the reasons he was brought in was to help the Bears because Johnny Knox's injury kept him from being the second guy on special teams with Hester. Now, Weems will get to show he can be the No. 1.