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Cheap Devin Hester Jersey

It’s hard to stand among football legends and declare yourself one of them.

Unless you know it’s true.

As Hall of Famers paraded down the orange carpet Friday to open the Bears’ 100th season celebration, Devin Hester tried to match their stature. He’s not there yet, but he’s certain it’s coming. He believes himself to have been as good at his job as Brian Urlacher and the others were at theirs.

“Do I feel like I’m the best that ever did it when it comes to kickoff and punt returns?” Hester pondered. “Honestly, I do.”

No one around here would disagree, and Hester got as raucous a welcome as any of the other greats when Bears play-by-play announcer Jeff Joniak introduced him to a packed exhibit hall at the Stephens Convention Center with his signature call of, “Devin Hester, you are ridiculous!”

They blasted the old Soulja Boy hit that Hester danced to on the field, and he gave the crowd the performance they wanted. No other man alive could make that song seem cool again in 2019.

The Bears haven’t had a player as exhilarating as Hester since they let him go in 2014 — although Tarik Cohen is making a run at it — and the NFL probably won’t ever see another return man so overwhelming, given Hester’s unparalleled elusiveness and the recent rule changes.

The threat that Hester posed gave extra incentive to the great Bears defenses of the mid-2000s. Third-down stops carried the possibility that Hester could turn the ensuing punt into instant points, and players raced to the sideline to get a good view of whatever came next.
“If you forced a punt inside the 10 and they’ve got to get it out quick — those opportunities, you knew Devin had a chance,” former Bears defensive end Alex Brown said. “But as you started to understand Devin, it didn’t matter where the hell they kicked it. He always had a chance. He was just that good.”

True validation beyond Chicago and Hester’s former teammates could come as early as 2022, when he will become eligible for the Hall of Fame. If he gets in — Hester would object to the use of “if” — he would be the first player to do so as primarily a return man. It seems appropriate that he’d be the one.

He dreams of that.

He eyed the gold jackets as they went past him in the convention center. Mike Ditka. Mike Singletary. Dick Butkus. Richard Dent. What he wouldn’t give to hear one of them whisper in his ear what he’s been telling himself all along: that he’s next.

“I’m just walking among living legends,” Hester said. “I haven’t talked to any of them yet [at the convention]. I just got here, but hopefully that opportunity will come for me.”

Whether he gets that affirmation this weekend, Hester has never doubted his candidacy. Others did. He still remembers draft analysts saying he’d never replicate his college success against NFL athletes, and he loves how emphatically he proved them wrong.

Was he any less scary in his prime than Urlacher was? In those days, opposing special teams coaches slept just as fitfully as offensive coordinators did.

Hester remains far and away the NFL’s all-time leader with 20 total special teams touchdowns, and he had a decent side hustle in the offense with 3,427 yards and 17 touchdowns as a receiver and rusher. He was a three-time All-Pro for the Bears.

And in a sport that magnifies big moments like no other, he unleashed a 92-yard beauty of a kickoff return to open Super Bowl XLI.

“It still feels like yesterday,” said Hester, now 36 and living in Florida. “They still replay it here and there. They talk about it a lot.”

Now comes the question of whether they’ll keep talking about it, and more specifically, who will keep talking about him. He can only wait, but he seems at ease about the eventual media vote. He’s far more eager than anxious. He has read the articles and seen the tweets, but mostly it’s just amusement to him. If anything, he’s curious whether he’ll get in on the first ballot.

“Every now and then, I get blogs pop up on my phone about whether or not I’m worthy,” he said. “It’s more positive than negative.

“For my career, it would be the icing on the cake. Every player that plays football wants to be one of the best to ever do it. When you get the Hall of Fame vote, you can say that.”

No need to wait until then. He knows it now.

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After reviewing tape of the Bears’ first rookie minicamp practice Friday, coach Matt Nagy praised the performance of receiver Riley Ridley.

“I thought Riley had a good day,” Nagy said Saturday of the fourth-round draft pick. “I thought he looked good, not a lot of mental errors.”

Ridley was known for his precise route-running at Georgia, where he caught 69 passes for 1,015 yards and 13 touchdowns in 28 games over three seasons. It’s a skill that the 6-1, 199-pounder has honed while working with his older brother, Calvin Ridley, a star receiver with the Falcons.

“My brother really prides himself on running routes,” Riley said. “He takes that and gives it to me and just lets me know that running routes can really help you as a receiver. It helps you gain separation and makes the catches easier. You’re more open. It makes your quarterback gain more trust in you.”

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Catch this: Another player who has stood out in rookie minicamp is running back David Montgomery. The third-round pick from Iowa State produced the play of the day Saturday with a diving catch deep down the right sideline.

“He’s extremely focused when he’s in practice, which I love,” Nagy said. “He’s very dialed in to whatever his assignment is. He loves being out here. There’s not a lot of running going on right now, but when he gets the chance to get that football, he sprints through that hole, he makes some cuts, makes some moves and he’s gone.”

Montgomery made another nice catch of a low throw in the left flat. His 71 receptions are the fifth most all-time by an Iowa State running back.

“I’m very confident in myself as far as catching the ball,” Montgomery said. “I think I catch the ball well. I played quarterback in high school, so I was catching the ball every play we ran out of the gun, so I got used to it over time.”
Much better: After only two of the eight kickers participating in rookie minicamp made a 43-yard field-goal attempt at the end of Friday’s practice, six of eight converted a 42-yarder at the conclusion of Saturday’s workout.

The six who connected were Chris Blewitt, Elliott Fry, Casey Bednarski, Emmit Carpenter, Spencer Evans and Justin Yoon. The two who missed were Redford Jones and John Baron.

“Patience is huge,” Nagy said. “That’s why we surround these kickers with quality people that know what they’re doing. Was it fun [Friday] to go 2-for-8? No. Was it a learning experience for them? Yeah. But again, it gives these kids a chance to bounce back from a rough day, come back [Saturday] and improve themselves.

“Just like we’re telling every other player on this team: when you make a mental mistake, you drop a ball, you get beat on a double-move as a DB, you make a mistake mentally, do you make the same mistake twice?”

Bringing excitement: Nagy wasn’t surprised when cornerback Duke Shelley’s defensive teammates chanted his first name after the sixth-round pick made a nice play to break up a pass in Saturday’s practice.

“That’s the infectious personality that within two days you can see,” Nagy said. “From the time we brought him in and we had him here at the facility in his 30 visit, you could feel how vibrant he was and how happy and excited he was just to be here.

“That’s already gone through that defensive room, and so when he makes a good play he’s going to jump up and be excited. He’s going to let them know that he made a good play, but in a good way. And his teammates are going to love it. That’s just the personality he has.”

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With the amount of buzz surrounding Bears’ rookie running back David Montgomery, you’d wager he was a first or second-round draft pick.

But somehow, the Bears managed to snag one of the best running backs in the draft with the 73rd overall selection, and the future certainly looks bright for the 21-year old running back from Iowa State.
While Montgomery has yet to play a down of football for the Bears, there’s a ton of confidence internally, as well as from national media. In fact, Chad Reuter of projects Montgomery to land on the 2019 All-Rookie Team.

Montgomery will be what Jordan Howard wasn’t for the Bears last season: elusive, and able to regularly break off 5- or 6-yard runs to keep the chains moving.

Montgomery was the fourth running back taken in the 2019 NFL Draft, and he’s the only third-round selection to land on this list composed of first and second-round picks.

One thing that certainly helps Montgomery’s stance is the depth chart, which currently boasts Tarik Cohen and Mike Davis. It seems like a foregone conclusion — barring any setbacks — that Montgomery will win the starting job with Cohen and Davis serving complementary roles.

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There’s plenty to love about Montgomery, including his versatility as a running back in his ability to contribute as a three-down back and a pass catcher, his contact balance when it comes to breaking tackles and the fact that he’s a high-character guy that this administration loves.

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The Bears on Tuesday continued their thorough and diligent search for a kicker, acquiring Eddy Pineiro in a trade with the Raiders in exchange for a conditional 2021 seventh-round draft pick.

The deal stipulates that the Bears will only surrender the pick if Pineiro is on their active roster for at least five regular-season games this year.

Pineiro, 23, signed with Oakland last year as an undrafted free agent from Florida. It appeared that he was going to beat out veteran Mike Nugent for the Raiders job, but Pineiro sustained a groin injury in training camp that landed him on injured reserve.

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Pineiro appeared in one preseason game with Oakland, converting 3-of-3 field-goal attempts from 21, 48 and 45 yards in a 16-10 win over the Lions.

Pineiro is the most accurate field-goal kicker in Florida history, having made 88.4 percent of his attempts (38 of 43) with a long of 54 yards. The Miami native made 29 of his last 30 field-goal tries for the Gators, including his final 16.

Pineiro had the best field-goal percentage in the nation in 2017 at 94.4 percent (17 of 18) with a long of 50. His only miss was a 47-yard attempt in a season-opening loss to Michigan. He made 2-of-2 from 50 yards and 4-of-5 from 40-49 yards.
Pineiro kicked in only seven games at Miami Sunset Senior High School. He also played soccer in high school and at ASA Community College in Miami before receiving a scholarship to play football at Florida.

Pineiro worked with new Bears kicking coach Jamie Kohl last year in preparation for the NFL Draft.

Pineiro becomes the third kicker on the Bears roster, joining Chris Blewitt and Elliott Fry. The team on Sunday waived Redford Jones and John Baron following rookie minicamp.