Devin Hester continues to impress with the Atlanta Falcons. After being used strictly as a return man for his last few season with the Chicago Bears, the Atlanta Falcons signed him with the intentions of bringing him back to his old wide receiver form. So far, the team is reaping the benefits as Hester is coming off yet another game of big plays. As a result, the Falcons are planning to give him even more playing time than before.
Hester put up big numbers against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers along with the rest of the Falcons offense. The veteran put up a rushing touchdown, recovered a fumble and ran back a punt for a touchdown, breaking Dion Sanders long-standing record. Each week Hester has seen his role with the Falcons increase. He has been responsible for numerous drive-extending catches along with huge plays down the sidelines as Matt Ryan takes advantage of his new offensive weapon. The Falcons are only planning bigger things for him as a result.
"The thinking is simple: All players usually get what they deserve. Devin has played his way into more plays. I've told you before, when Devin signed here, I was thinking, 'Chicago didn't use him. Why are we going to use him?' And [coach Mike Smith] was talking to [wide receivers coach] Terry [Robiskie] and I saying, 'Hey, we've got to find some stuff for Devin,'" offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said, via ESPN.com. "Devin has totally earned everything he's got by how he plays in practice. It's true of any player, it just happens that Devin [is] the greatest kick returner in league history."
Hester is on the right team when it comes to transitioning back into the wide receiver. The Falcons are loaded at the position which prevents the veteran from having to fight double coverage or top defenders. With Julio Jones, Roddy White and Harry Douglas on the field at the same time, Hester has more opportunities to get open, something he is going very well.
"When a guy is in the game a lot, it's easier to do unique things with him because it doesn't look unusual that he's in the game," Koetter said. "We got into situation last year where at times, every time we put Antone [Smith] in the game, he was getting the ball.
One thing is certain, Hester's presence on the field is only helping the rest of the wide receivers for Atlanta. Douglas, White and Jones are operating at full speed with another player attracting attention from the defense. Ryan is doing a much better job of spreading the ball out to everyone including tight end Levine Toilolo as the offense has been one of the league's best through three games and Hester will only help that continue.