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updated: 4/16/2013 10:36 PM

Hester not among Bears receivers

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  • Coach Marc Trestman talks to quarterback Jay Cutler, left, and his receivers during the first day of the Bears minicamp Tuesday.

       Coach Marc Trestman talks to quarterback Jay Cutler, left, and his receivers during the first day of the Bears minicamp Tuesday.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

 
 

Devin Hester was conspicuous by his lack of participation in the Bears' first minicamp practice under new head coach Marc Trestman.

Hester was not involved with the receivers at any time during Tuesday's practice inside the Walter Payton Center at Halas Hall.

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And that was by design of the coaching staff.

About the only activity Hester had was fielding a handful of punts, although he did join other special teamers in a kick-coverage drill that involved taking a tackling dummy to the ground.

Under Lovie Smith, Hester was touted as the Bears' No. 1 receiver, and for a brief moment in time that almost seemed possible.

He caught 57 passes for 757 yards in 2009. But his receptions and yardage have plummeted in each of the past three seasons. It dropped all the way to 23 catches and 242 yards last season, when he was a mere footnote to the offense.

So for now Hester is exclusively a special-teams player.

"I'll make it clear because I have been asked that a number of times," Trestman said. "Devin is going to focus on being our returner.

"He's got to be the returner for him to be here, and once that is locked into place, which we expect that it will, then we'll see where it goes from there.

"We made a collective decision organizationally. I talked with the guys who have been here. (General manager) Phil (Emery) and I had a long conversation about it as well. Just talking to Devin, let him get back to doing what he does best first.

"Then, when that's all in place, we'll see if we need to or if we're in a position to, be able to incorporate him into doing more things."

Hester indicated that his role would expand from the current level of working only with special-teams coach Joe DeCamillis.

"During the season we're going to have stuff I'll be doing, not standing on the sidelines," Hester said. "I'll be catching punts, doing little small drills. I will stay motivated and stay conditioned.

"It's just a new year for me. Fresh start for me, new coaching staff."

Another interesting development involved 2011 first-round draft choice Gabe Carimi, who started 14 games last season, including the first 10 at right tackle.

In his rookie season, before Carimi suffered a season-ending knee injury in his second game, he was called the team's best offensive lineman by O-line coach Mike Tice. But Carimi, who appeared not fully recovered last year from the knee injury, lined up Tuesday at right guard with the second team.

J'Marcus Webb, last year's left tackle, has been replaced by unrestricted free agent Jermon Bushrod. So Webb is competing with Jonathan Scott for the right tackle spot, where it originally was thought Carimi would contend.

Unrestricted free agent Matt Slauson started with the first team at right guard. James Brown, an undrafted rookie last season, was the No. 1 left guard, where he started the final three games in 2012.

Asked if Carimi is a right tackle or a guard, Trestman quickly replied, "More a guard. He was hurt all last year, so we're going to focus in on him competing at the guard position with Matt."

Trestman's first practice moved at a rapid clip after he prioritized a fast pace. On many of the 11-on-11 plays, Trestman trailed behind the action sprinting along with the players.

What's that all about?

"That's just how I've been doing it," Trestman said. "I like football and like moving around and making sure people are running to the ball, and that's kind of how I have done it."

•Follow Bob's NFL reports on Twitter @BobLeGere, and check out his Bear Essentials blog at dailyherald.com/sports.

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