Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

November 23, 2011
Should the Raiders fear Devin Hester?

ALAMEDA - Corralling Devin Hester is like the Super Bowl for special teams units.

Hester, Chicago's record-setting kick/punt returner will be the focal point of the Raiders coverage units Sunday.

The Raiders have been vulnerable to punt returns - having given up two for scores this season.

Punter Shane Lechler doesn't plan to let his ego get in the way Sunday by kicking to Hester and allowing him to the chance to return a kick for a score.

Hester has three of his record 18 punt/kick returns for touchdowns this season.

"I don't want to put ourselves in that situation, where giving him a chance for him to be the spark in this game, especially with Cutler being down and a new quarterback coming in the game, I don't want to give him the edge in the special teams battle." I don't want to put ourselves in that situation, where giving him a chance for him to be the spark in this game, especially with Cutler being down and a new quarterback coming in the game, I don't want to give him the edge in the special teams battle."

But not everyone is Lechler.

Try telling Raiders safety Mike Mitchell he should be worried about Lechler.

Mitchell called Hester the best returner in the game "besides Jacoby (Ford)."

And he's not in favor of kicking the ball out of bounds in fear of Hester.

"I don't think Bones (special team coach Jim Fassel) would ever do that because we have a guy who can punt a ball 60 yards in the air," Mitchell said. "We're going to take every advantage of that. We have the biggest, fastest guys in the league covering our punts. We just have to get down field and outrun their protection team and make tackles. After he gets machine gunned a couple of times he's not going to be too quick to return punts. I'm not talking any trash either. I think he's the best punt returner, best returner besides Jacoby. Jacoby's on my team. I think he's awesome. But our mentality is he has to play us."

Mitchell's mindset is what Chicago coach Lovie Smith expects.

Football players aren't going to want to hear they need to be cared of one man.

"I think it's hard to go into meetings and tell your team, say Devin is returning a punt, and tell your punt team that, 'Hey guys, we don't think you're good enough so we're going to have to kick it out of bounds because we don't think you can tackle one guy down on the other end,'" Smith said. "I just don't think you can go in and do that very often. So, I assume a lot of teams have kicked it to him and I think they'll continue to do that, because he's just an NFL player, like everybody else. And believe me, we love it every time that they do decide to do that."

Mitchell agrees with that.

"Not a chance," Mitchell said. "I mean if you're a man."

So who will Lechler's common sense or the confidence of Mitchell win out Sunday?

That will be something to watch.

Injury report

The Raiders were short on wide receivers at practice today. Coach Hue Jackson was hopeful some of the receivers would return by the end of the week, noting Jacoby Ford should be out of his walking boot Thursday.

Denarius Moore was wearing a walking boot today.

DID NOT PARTICIPATE IN PRACTICE

QB Jason Campbell (collarbone), WR Jacoby Ford (foot), WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (neck), WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh (not injury related), DE Lamarr Houston (knee), RB Taiwan Jones (hamstring), RB Darren McFadden (foot), WR Denarius Moore (foot), DE Jarvis Moss (hamstring), DT Richard Seymour (knee)


LIMITED PARTICIPATION IN PRACTICE

S Michael Huff (ankle), CB Chris Johnson (hamstring, groin), S Michael Mitchell (ankle), C Samson Satele (concussion), RB Manase Tonga (knee)

BEARS

OUT (DEFINITELY WILL NOT PLAY)

QB Jay Cutler (right thumb)

DID NOT PARTICIPATE IN PRACTICE

CB D.J. Moore (ankle)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION IN PRACTICE

S Brandon Meriweather (concussion)

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About Raiders Blog and Q&A

Matt Kawahara was born in Sacramento and attended McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley, where he wrote for the independent student paper The Daily Californian. He graduated from Cal in 2010 and started at The Sacramento Bee as a summer intern. He joined The Bee's sports staff in fall 2011.

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