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updated: 9/7/2012 7:24 PM

Bears' Hester has eyes on Sanders' record

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  • Devin Hester wants to break the NFL career record held by Deion Sanders for return TDs.

      Devin Hester wants to break the NFL career record held by Deion Sanders for return TDs.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer


Devin Hester already holds the NFL career record for kick-return touchdowns with 17 (12 punts and 5 kickoffs). But his total of 18 return touchdowns (including 1 missed field goal) is 1 shy of Deion Sanders' league record of 19.

"I'm not going to sit here and say it doesn't (cross my mind), Hester said. "It's just one more record I can accomplish. I have a lot more years in me, so I'm hoping that I can accomplish that as soon as possible so that question and thought can be erased from my mind, and I can go ahead and continue to play ball."

Not included among Hester's total is the game-opening, 92-yard kickoff-return touchdown he had in Super Bowl XLI against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday's opponent at Soldier Field.

Hester said he thinks about that return when he sees the Colts. But he's more impressed by what wide receiver Brandon Marshall did the last time he faced the Colts, in 2009, as a member of the Broncos. Marshall caught an NFL-record 21 passes.

"I can't get the 21 receptions out of my mind," Hester said, standing next to Marshall in the locker room. "It just stands out. It's something that's unheard of, never been done before. The guy right there is unbelievable."

Hester remains the undisputed No. 1 punt returner and, while 2010 Pro Bowl return specialist Eric Weems will help out with kickoff-return duties this season, Hester isn't being replaced.

"Devin is going to return both," special teams coordinator Dave Toub said. "He's our No. 1 returner, punt and kick return."

Head above water:

Coach Lovie Smith didn't agree with the analogy offered by a reporter that playing rookie defensive end Shea McClellin on Sunday was like throwing him in the deep end.

"I think he's a guy that knows how to swim," Smith said. "He's going to go out there and swim fairly well in shallow water is what I think. If we didn't have faith in him, we wouldn't let him play Sunday. His best is good enough to help us win a lot of football games -- I'm pretty sure about that."

Injury update:

Linebacker Brian Urlacher (knee) was a full participant in Friday's practice, as were safety Chris Conte (shoulder) and punter Adam Podlesh (hip). Receiver Earl Bennett (hand) was added to the injury list Friday and was limited.

Urlacher says he will play, Podlesh probably will not, and Conte may be able to play wearing a shoulder harness. All were listed as "probable."

Running back Lorenzo Booker (head) did not practice all week and was listed as "questionable," but he is not expected to play.

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