Make Devin Hester Prove It

Is Devin Hester clueless? It's up to him to prove otherwise

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Devin Hester is set for a breakout year at wide receiver. The speedy return man should benefit from the strong arm of Cutler.

    Ever since Devin Hester made the transition from kick returner to starting wide receiver, a persistent and not exactly unfair consensus has emerged: Hester doesn't "get" the position. He isn't good in the classroom. He doesn't know the playbook. Or so the consensus goes.

    Yesterday, Hester's receivers coach, Darryl Drake, decided to stand up for Hester's learning abilities. From the Chicago Tribune:

    "I guess sometimes I get a little too overprotective about it, but I do that when I know people are wrong about him," Drake said. "Devin is one of the most instinctive football players I've ever been around. He can play any spot out there. There's just so much more there than people want to give him credit for."

    To which we say: prove it.

    You see, Hester can be the most instinctual player of all-time. He could out-instinct Emmitt Smith. But if the instinct doesn't carry over into production, what good is that? If his apparently intricate knowledge of the playbook doesn't carry over into live situations, what good is the knowledge? If his route running is perfect in practice and no one sees it on Sundays, does it really exist?

    When you think about it, Hester's move to wideout has been somewhat successful already. After all, this is a guy who used to be a cornerback, and then spent two years playing only special teams. The Bears move him to wideout because there's so little talent at the position, and yeah, sure, he often looked confused, but isn't that to be expected? What did the Bears, or Bears fans, think was going to happen? This is not Hester's fault.

    But if the Bears want to convince us that Devin Hester is the second coming of Marvin Harrison, talking about it isn't going to do much. It's up to Devin to prove it on the field. If he does, the consensus will quickly go away. If he doesn't, its the Bears' fault for setting him up to fail in the first place, especially in 2008. We want to be believers, but we'll need to see a productive good 2009 first.

    Eamonn Brennan is a Chicago-based writer, editor and blogger. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, Mouthpiece Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com. Follow him on Twitter.