Hester out to prove his worth
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BOURBONNAIS — Devin Hester is one of 43 Bears who will come out of contract at the end of this season. He's fine with that, even though general manager Phil Emery has proclaimed there will be no new deals done during the season.
"I'd rather do my contract after the season is over because the way I'm feeling now, I could boost my stock a whole lot from where it's at now," Hester said. "I'd rather have mine after the season because what I'm planning on doing this year is going to help me out."
After a disappointing 2012 season, Hester has been relegated strictly to returning kicks, with only a possibility of reclaiming his former wide receiver role.
"I don't know what the coaches have in mind," he said. "But I'm more focused on special teams and we'll see where it goes from there."
Hester's production as a pass catcher has dropped in three straight seasons, and his 2012 return numbers were disappointing for the NFL career record holder in combined kick-return touchdowns (17) and punt-return touchdowns (12). If he doesn't regain his elite form as a returner, Hester might not have a role on this year's team.
"I have to prove myself every year," he said. "This is a league where only the best survive. I do feel like I'm an elite player. I still have a lot left in the tank. For some of the guys that felt like I lost a step, it's a burning fire that's under my foot to prove (it) to not only you guys but my family as well. I will show it this year."
New Jedi master:
Defensive end Shea McClellin says he'll miss defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, who is now the Cowboys' defensive line coach.
Even as the Bears' coordinator, Marinelli was very hands-on with the linemen, his specialty. But McClellin is glad Mike Phair is back for his third year as defensive line coach.
"(Marinelli) was a great coach definitely," said McClellin, who was third on the team as a rookie last season with 14 quarterback pressures. "Starting my career I learned a lot from him. But Marinelli was like Yoda to Phair, so Phair is stepping up. He's the new Yoda."
Early to work:
All but two of the Bears' 13 training camp practices at Olivet Nazarene University commence at 9 a.m., a departure from former coach Lovie Smith's protocol in years past. Under Smith, practices alternated between morning, afternoon and evening in recent years. The change is all part of new coach Marc Trestman's agenda.
"With our 12 o'clock starting time (for games), we want to build a habit," Trestman said. "We know that players like an itinerary. They like to know where they're supposed to be and what they're supposed to do.
"On Sunday in September we've got a 12 o'clock game. We've go to get up early and get ourselves and our body's functions moving in the right direction, so we can be ready to come out of the gate at 12 o'clock and be ready to play. This allows them to do that."
Five of the Bears' first seven games and 12 of the 16 will begin at noon. Trestman believes the early start to the workday will benefit players and a similar itinerary will carry over into the regular season.
"There's also the residual effect of having more time off their feet," Trestman said. "We want to get up and get our work done, and this is how we're going to operate during the season. We're going to start at 7:30 with the team. So they've got to be up and ready to go. We've got some guys traveling longer distances than others, and they get used to waking up early and getting their systems functioning in a way that they'll be ready to work and practice at those times."
Defensive lineman Jamaal Anderson, the eighth overall pick in the 2007 draft, signed a one-year contract Wednesday, replacing defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis, who did not report to camp and has advised the Bears he plans to retire.
The 6-foot-6, 280-pound Anderson has started 48 games and played in 77 in six seasons with the Falcons (2007-10), Colts (2011) and Bengals (2012). He has 132 career tackles, 7½ sacks, 10 pass breakups, 2 forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
Ellis was placed on the reserve/retired list.
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