Receivers slow to catch on

  • Receivers Devin Hester, left, and Rashied Davis haven't done much for the Bears' struggling offense.

      Receivers Devin Hester, left, and Rashied Davis haven't done much for the Bears' struggling offense. Mary Beth Nolan | Staff Photographer

Published11/18/2008 12:04 AM

Bears wide receivers caught just 4 passes against the Packers, and only 1 was for more than 9 yards, giving them a two-week total of 9 receptions. A week earlier, in the 21-14 loss to the Titans, wide receivers caught just 5 passes from Rex Grossman.

The Cardinals' Anquan Boldin caught 13 passes on Sunday and teammate Larry Fitzgerald caught 10.


"Other teams covered us," coach Lovie Smith said. "It's kind of as simple as that. We haven't been able to get them the ball. If you look at our receiver play throughout, it's been pretty good. You go through spells where you are not as productive as you would like. But in the big picture we have gotten a lot of production from our receivers."

Rashied Davis, the Bears' most productive wide receiver, is 60th in the NFL with 369 yards and 69th with 29 catches. Devin Hester is 73rd in the league with 318 yards and 85th with 26 catches.

Unhappy returns: Danieal Manning replaced Devin Hester on kickoff returns in the second half against the Packers and was much more effective, averaging 27.3 yards on 3 attempts. Hester averaged just 22.8 yards on 5 tries and appeared tentative and indecisive, which didn't seem to please special teams coach Dave Toub.

"I'm sure Dave would like for him to score every time," coach Lovie Smith said. "That's how we would all like to see Devin with the returns. Has he been hesitant? I don't know what word you want to give it. We haven't gotten a lot of production from our returns up until this point."

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For the season, Manning is averaging 26.5 yards on 11 kickoff returns, while Hester is averaging 21.8 yards on 29 attempts. Smith wouldn't say if Manning would get more work on returns this week.

"Danieal came in and gave us a little spark there," Smith said. "Each week you evaluate the video and you make decisions based on that."

Baby steps: First-round draft choice Chris Williams saw hist first playing time on offense against the Packers, playing five snaps at left tackle on the final possession.

To make room for Williams, who had back surgery early in training camp and missed the first seven games, starting left tackle John St. Clair moved inside to left guard, giving Josh Beekman got some time off.

"It's good to get him in the game," coach Lovie Smith said of Williams. "He's been making progress. He's kind of gotten his training camp a little bit later."


Williams got beat by Packers defensive end and leading sacker Aaron Kampman, but Rex Grossman barely avoided a sack.

Prime time: The Sunday night (7:15, NBC-TV) game against the Vikings at Minnesota on Nov. 30 was confirmed by the league on Monday and will not be flexed to an earlier starting time.

That is the first in a stretch of three night games over a four-week span for the Bears.


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