When Devin Hester, the best kick returner in the NFL — maybe the best ever — left in free agency, the Bears must have known it would be difficult to fill his shoes. So naturally, they have six candidates to do so. Eric Weems, Michael Spurlock, Armanti Edwards, Chris Williams and Michael Ford are all in the mix.
“We have a lot of experience back there,” said special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis, via ChicagoBears.com. “There’s a lot of talent and that’s really what you want when you’re evaluating.”
Unfortunately for the Bears, they can split up Hester’s responsibilities. After all, Hester returned punts and kicks. Like running back or wide receiver, teams can combine talents of different players to make one, multi-dimensional return team. If any gaggle of savvy veterans and live wire youngster returners could combine forces to reignite Chicago’s special teams, those six could do it.
Weems has the most experience. He spent his first five seasons with the Falcons from 2007-11 and averaged 25.6 yards on 113 kickoff returns and 10.6 yards on 77 punt returns.
In his 67 games, Spurlock spent time with the Cardinals, Buccaneers, 49ers, Chargers, Jaguars, Lions and Cowboys. At least he’s getting work, right? Despite all that jet setting, he averaged 9.6 yards with two touchdowns on 81 punt returns, and 24.2 yards and three TDs on 107 kickoff returns.
A former college quarterback, Edwards played for the Panthers and Browns. He has played in 41 games over four seasons, averaging 7.0 yards on 40 punt returns and 19.7 yards on 15 kickoff returns. He has also hauled in six receptions for 131 yards and rushed three times for 12 yards.