Bears GM: Devin Hester to 'compete' for returner job

  • By Kevin Patra
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Devin Hester will have to earn every minute of playing time with the Chicago Bears in 2013.

The record-setting kick returner isn't even guaranteed a spot in the return game.

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"He'll compete to be our returner," general manager Phil Emery said Thursday from the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine, via the Chicago Sun-Times. "What he does beyond that depends on how he performs in that first role as a returner."

The former cornerback-turned-wide receiver hasn't panned out in the pass game. His production has dropped each season since quarterback Jay Cutler joined the Bears, bottoming out with just 23 receptions for 242 yards in 2012.

Hester was vocally bitter when the team fired Lovie Smith, going so far as to contemplate retirement.

The 30-year-old hasn't seemed completely comfortable in his six seasons at receiver. He did not score a return touchdown in 64 attempts for the first time since 2009, when he only returned 31 kicks.

Follow Kevin Patra on Twitter @kpatra.