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Falcons Should Be Thankful To Have Hester


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Falcons should be thankful to have Hester

September, 19, 2014 2:50AM ET

By Vaughn McClure | ESPN.com

ATLANTA -- As he stood at the podium relishing his new NFL record for return touchdowns, an emotional Devin Hester acknowledged a handful of folks who helped him along the way.

The Atlanta Falcons receiver/return man started by thanking God. Then he talked about how his mother, Juanita Brown, encourages him on a daily basis.

"Every day before I leave the hotel, I call her and I get a prayer from her," Hester said. "She just motivates me to go out and do what this team is capable of doing and what I'm capable of doing."

Then Hester praised his mentor, former Atlanta Falcon and current television analyst Deion Sanders, whom Hester surpassed with his 20th return touchdown in Thursday night's 56-14 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Hester paid tribute to Sanders by high-stepping to the end zone while striking a Deion-style pose as he returned a punt 62 yards for a score.

Hester wanted to save the ball for Sanders.

"But the ball is on the way to Canton, Ohio," he said of where the Pro Football Hall of Fame is located. "They hurried up and took the ball from me. When I get it back, you know I am going to give him the ball."

Sanders, who was on the sideline for CBS/NFL Network, told Hester he almost pulled a hamstring sprinting toward the end zone to follow him.

"It is tough to break record from a guy that holds it that's my No. 1 mentor," Hester said. "The relationship that Deion and I have started back in college, and to this day I get a text from him every day. Every day I wake up, that's my alarm.

"I kind of teared up a little bit, and he knows that if anyone was capable of breaking that record and he wanted anyone to break it, then I knew it was going to be me."

Hester couldn't forget Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith, the man who drafted him in Chicago when Smith was the Bears' head coach. The two shared a moment before the game, and Hester mentioned that although he hated playing against Smith, at least his old coach would be there if he happened to break the record.

He did.

Indeed, this was Hester's night. But it symbolized much more than a historic moment. The energy he brings and his production will only help the Falcons thrive.

"You can’t say enough about him," quarterback Matt Ryan said. "Devin's been awesome since he's gotten here. And he is as good a teammate as you could ask for. He works as hard as anybody I've been around. And he's extremely humble. I couldn't be more happy for him to break the record tonight."

Hester's record-setting return -- his 14th on a punt to go with five kickoffs and one field-goal attempt taken back for TDs -- was far from his only contribution. He scored the first rushing touchdown of his career on a 20-yard reverse in the second quarter, following a block from fullback Patrick DiMarco. But even more impressive is how Hester stripped Buccaneers safety Mark Barron and recovered the fumble after Barron recovered a fumble by Falcons tight end Levine Toilolo. It allowed the Falcons to remain on offense and led to Ryan's 8-yard touchdown pass to Julio Jones, which gave Atlanta a 14-0 lead in the eventual blowout.

"That could have been one of the biggest plays of the game," Ryan said of Hester strip and recovery. "Kind of channeled some of his inner-defense from college."

Hester said he learned the ball-punch trick from former Bears teammate Charles Tillman.

Funny Hester would mention his former team. Had Chicago not given up on him, the Falcons might never have seen him in a No. 17 uniform.

Now, the Bears might have some regrets. Hester sure doesn't.

"Chicago knew I was unhappy with things that were going on," Hester said. "But I'm here in Atlanta, and I'm happy to be here. And that's all that matters.

"I know the fans in Chicago hate what's going on. I know the fans didn't want me to leave. But at the same time, me and the organization were both on the same page with me not being happy. So, this is just a new life and a new fresh start for me."

And things have started off pretty well for Devin Hester, the Atlanta Falcon.

Falcons knew Devin Hester still had “gas in the tank”

Posted by Mike Florio on September 19, 2014, 2:06 PM EDT

When free agency began in March, receiver Devin Hester wasn’t near the top of anyone’s list. Anyone except the Falcons.

“We’d been talking for a number of years about what we’re going to do with our return specialist situation and what we’re going to do with our receiver group,” G.M. Thomas Dimitroff told PFT Live on Friday. “We thought if we could land a legitimate return guy, both punt and kickoff return, and then mix him into that group of three or four [receivers], that was going to help our production on the offensive side of the ball as well. Our feeling was that with Devin, he is an electric type of player as we all know, and that we truly felt that he still had gas in the tank, he still had the explosiveness, and we saw last night, when he gets in the open space how he creates is something that is unparalleled quite honestly, and it’s fun to watch him.”

So how did the Falcons evaluate a guy’s potential on offense when he hasn’t played much offense lately? Last year with the Bears, Hester didn’t participate in a single snap from scrimmage.

“I’m a big believer in assessing the athleticism, the movement, the ability to start, stop, the body control,” Dimitroff said. “That’s something that there’s no question he has. The fact that he can catch the ball naturally is another big point. And you have an assistant head coach in Terry Robiskie here and [offensive coordinator] Dirk Koetter, who are creative minds. It’s putting him in the right spot to be successful. We all know how important that is and some of the best coaches in this league are able to do that. Know the talent, know their strengths, and accentuate their strengths. . . .

“We’re getting out of him what we wanted and more, no question about it.”

There’s also no question that the 2014 Falcons look to be much better than their 2013 counterparts. For more from Dimitroff, click the box below.

http://profootballta...as-in-the-tank/

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"It is tough to break record from a guy that holds it that's my No. 1 mentor," Hester said. "The relationship that Deion and I have started back in college, and to this day I get a text from him every day. Every day I wake up, that's my alarm.

No wonder Hester holds Deion in such high esteem.

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For all of the negative publicity the league has gotten within the last few weeks, I sure am glad that Atlanta gets these high character players. Devin Hester is a real stand up guy.

I have a (not serious) theory that the NFL pumped Hester full of PEDs so they could have a good story in the midst of all the bad ones.

Seriously, a very proud night for Hester and the Falcon nation.

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Many of us where happy to have Devin come to Atlanta for the obvious value he brought to Special teams.... But what he's doing on Offense and just as a teammate has pretty much etched him into a fan favorite very quickly and expect to see many #17 jersey's over next few years... Now let's get to the super bowl and have him return one for a TD in route to a title!!!

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I'll admit that I thought we probably overpaid for a PR/KR when we signed him. I knew that we had to get the ball to him in space, but I never envisioned the dynamic that he's bringing to this offense our the energy that he brought this team and our fan base. May be as big an addition as Turner or Gonzales in the end.

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TD did something right. His name is Devin Hester. I'm quite sure TD had no idea exactly how big of a contribution Hester was capable of making on offense when he brought him here from Chicago, but suffice it to say, whenever in the future somebody attacks TD for some of his questionable player choices, he can point to Hester and say, "yeah but I brought Hester here also, so STFU!!"

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I am certainly thankful for having him. I stated last night I was going to get a Matthews jersey, 1st time in forever I've wanted an oline Falcon jersey. I think I'm also gonna get a Hester one too.

Well you could add a dline Corey Peters jersey to your collection while you are at it. Bet you already have Ryan and Julio jerseys.

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No Julio surprisingly. I have thought about Peters, if he keeps it up I will. Right now Trufant is on my list as well.

A Trufant jersey would be an excellent choice also, especially if he ever learns to hold onto all those near interceptions. Interceptions is the stat that helps good cover CBs enter into "elite" territory.

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I have always thought this could be the most underrated signing of the offseason. Well now its just one of.the best signings period!

Ya know, since what we already had in 08 and Tony, Hester is the first Veteran Receiver we've given Ryan.

Ryan likes to throw to guys he can trust and Hester's pedigree is already there. Ryan's pretty comfortable throwing to Roddy, Julio, Harry, Hester, and even Weems.

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Falcons knew Devin Hester still had “gas in the tank”

Posted by Mike Florio on September 19, 2014, 2:06 PM EDT

When free agency began in March, receiver Devin Hester wasn’t near the top of anyone’s list. Anyone except the Falcons.

“We’d been talking for a number of years about what we’re going to do with our return specialist situation and what we’re going to do with our receiver group,” G.M. Thomas Dimitroff told PFT Live on Friday. “We thought if we could land a legitimate return guy, both punt and kickoff return, and then mix him into that group of three or four [receivers], that was going to help our production on the offensive side of the ball as well. Our feeling was that with Devin, he is an electric type of player as we all know, and that we truly felt that he still had gas in the tank, he still had the explosiveness, and we saw last night, when he gets in the open space how he creates is something that is unparalleled quite honestly, and it’s fun to watch him.”

So how did the Falcons evaluate a guy’s potential on offense when he hasn’t played much offense lately? Last year with the Bears, Hester didn’t participate in a single snap from scrimmage.

“I’m a big believer in assessing the athleticism, the movement, the ability to start, stop, the body control,” Dimitroff said. “That’s something that there’s no question he has. The fact that he can catch the ball naturally is another big point. And you have an assistant head coach in Terry Robiskie here and [offensive coordinator] Dirk Koetter, who are creative minds. It’s putting him in the right spot to be successful. We all know how important that is and some of the best coaches in this league are able to do that. Know the talent, know their strengths, and accentuate their strengths. . . .

“We’re getting out of him what we wanted and more, no question about it.”

There’s also no question that the 2014 Falcons look to be much better than their 2013 counterparts. For more from Dimitroff, click the box below.

http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2014/09/19/falcons-knew-devin-hester-still-had-gas-in-the-tank/

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