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Hester Will Get Return Chances According to Kiffin


This is why the Raiders continue to be a laughing stock among the rest of the National Football League. Sunday they play host to the struggling Chicago Bears, a team that has not been able to find it’s stride pretty much throughout all of the 2007 season, and really have struggled on both sides of the ball. There is one player on the Bears that continues to be one of the most dangerous weapons in the NFL, and that is kick returner Devin Hester. This season Hester has been his usual disruptive self, taking back three returns already this season for scores, and putting up close to 25 yards per kickoff return and 15 yards per punt return. So what will the Raiders do to take Hester out of the game-plan Sunday?

Kick to him.

Yes, the Raiders, a team that evidently has yet to watch game film on Hester, announced on Wendesday that instead of doing what other teams that have beaten the Bears in 2007 have done, they will do the complete opposite – give Hester a chance. First-year coach Lane Kiffin has boldly pronounced that his kick coverage unit is ready to go up against the league’s best returner. “We’re exicted about the challenge” Kiffin said. “It’s no fun to kick out of bounds, so we’re going to see how well we can cover.”

Really this has to be some sort of joke. But for the Bears, a team that can ill afford a loss to the slumping Raiders, head coach Lovie Smith is hoping that Kiffin is dumb enough to be telling the truth. ”Does he mean it?” Smith said. ”It’s hard to say. Most teams haven’t kicked to him. I can understand why you would get a guy that would say: ‘Hey, he’s a guy that puts on his shoes just like everybody else. We’re going to kick to him.’ ‘If I was on the other side of the field, I would kick the ball to Devin Hester. Sitting here as the head coach of Devin, if I was on that other side, I can understand why teams wouldn’t do it.”

Teams that are looking to put one in the win column against the Bears are doing the right thing, and that is they are taking Hester’s shot to take one back on them out of the game plan. Considering that teams have only allowed Hester to touch the ball on special teams three times in the last two games, it’s not hard to see why the Bears have struggled and are 3-5 entering Sunday’s contest in the Black Hole.

So is Kiffin bluffing? He’d better be if he thinks that his ball club is going to be able to come out ahead on Sunday. The Raiders at one point in 2007 were 2-2, but since then have done what the Raiders have been known to do over the past few years, fold. They have lost three straight and late Sunday at home to the Texans they were outplayed basically from start to finish despite making it close in the end before losing 24-17.

It will be interesting to see if Kiffin is dumb enough to allow his players to actually give Hester a shot on Sunday. If they do, it will be another sign as to why the Raiders continue to be one of the worst, and in this case, one of the dumbest teams in the league when it comes to game-planning.

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