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Hester making history with returns; Edge has his edge back

Heading into Sunday night's game against the Dallas Cowboys, Devin Hester's rate of return is better than any mutual fund.

No return man in NFL history has returned kicks and punts for touchdowns with the frequency of Hester, who scores 8 percent of the time he returns one.

Not including his touchdown on the opening kickoff of last season's Super Bowl or the one he brought back 108 yards last season after a missed field goal against the New York Giants, Hester has returned six of 75 kickoffs and punts for touchdowns.

The next best rate of return in NFL history belongs to Andy Uram, the former Green Bay Packer whose touchdown return rate from 1938-'43 was 6.9 percent. And following Uram is Hall-of-Famer Gale Sayers, who scored on kickoffs 6.8 percent of the time.

Hester's six touchdowns on kick returns also have come in 18 games, making him the best in another category. Hester is averaging a kick return for a touchdown every three games, the quickest pace in NFL history.

The next closest with a minimum of 10 games is Leon Burton, the former New York Titan who played in 1960 and averaged a touchdown every seven games. After Burton, Adam "Pacman" Jones has averaged a touchdown return every 7.5 games.

Hester's returns are highlight reels. Yet what makes them even more impressive, aside from the results, are the rate of return.


For now, Indianapolis is concerned about Sunday's big game with the Texans. But soon enough, the franchise is going to face big decisions.

Colts safety Bob Sanders and tight end Dallas Clark each are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents after this season. Each has become instrumental in the success of his respective unit.

Yet unless one of the players is signed to a long-term extension before sometime in February, Indianapolis will be able to slap its franchise tag on only one. The other will then be free to hit the open market.

Indianapolis is not thought to have had extensive negotiations with either player. Talks typically are kept confidential. But it would be logical to think the Colts would do their best to get one player signed well before the free-agent signing period so they could franchise the other and keep both.

Working in the Colts' favor are the franchise salaries for players at those positions, where the prices for safeties and tight ends is minimal compared to other positions.

The franchise safety number is $4 million; the number for tight ends is only slightly higher. It is up to the Colts to figure out the best way to keep both players, each of whom has been critical to his unit's success. It is the next big decision for a franchise that has made plenty of right ones the past decade.


Look at who is leading the NFC in rushing after two games –- none other than Arizona running back Edgerrin James, who has racked up 220 yards.

What's more notable than James being the conference's leading rusher is the fact that he is averaging 4.4 yards per carry -– a full yard more than he averaged last year.

This is the ultimate sign that Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt and his assistant head coach Russ Grimm are installing a sound and solid system.

Now the Cardinals take their newfound rushing success to one of football's toughest testing grounds -– Baltimore, where a certain former University of Miami linebacker and ex-college teammate is waiting to greet James.


Through two games, only two players in the NFL have 20 or more tackles and two or more sacks. One is Sanders, who has been a wrecking ball for the Colts. The other is Washington linebacker Rocky McIntosh, who, if he keeps this up, is on his way to Hawaii.


No team puts up any more intriguing, or fun, numbers than the Detroit Lions. Here are some:

» During last Sunday's win over Minnesota, Detroit's leading rusher was Brian Calhoun, who gained a meager 22 yards.

» Through two games, the Lions leading receiver is not Roy Williams, Calvin Johnson or Mike Furrey. It's the less-heralded Shaun McDonald, who has 13 catches for 161 yards –- two more catches than Williams, three more than Furrey and five more than Johnson.

Now Detroit meets Philadelphia, and anyone who watched the Redskins matchup vs. the Eagles knows that Washington attacked cornerback Will James. Look for Detroit to do the same, as no team in the league flings the football more often than the Lions.

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