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Write Now Blog

Weems excited about expanded role

Posted by Larry Mayer on November 29, 2012 – 5:23 pm

With Devin Hester ruled out of Sunday’s home game against the Seahawks due to a concussion, Eric Weems will become the Bears’ primary return specialist.

The six-year veteran took over for Hester in last Sunday’s 28-10 win over the Vikings, averaging 21.7 yards on three kickoff returns, well below his 25.3-yard career average.

“It was good to get him in there and knock the dust off,” said special teams coordinator Dave Toub. “I expect him to be a lot better this week. I expect him to take a little more of a jump and hit the ball a little bit faster up the field. He’s excited about the opportunities he’s going to get this week.”

Weems possesses a different skill set than Hester, who has averaged 8.0 yards on 26 punt returns with a long of 44 yards and 25.5 yards on 18 kickoff returns with a long of 38 yards this season.

“He’s a lot more north and south, good vision, strong, up-the-field player whereas Devin is going to try to make you miss, run around you and a lot of times get to the edge,” Toub said.

Weems signed with the Bears in March after spending his first five NFL seasons with the Falcons. The 5-9, 195-pounder, who was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2010 as the NFC’s special teams representative, excelled in Atlanta both on the kick return and coverage teams.

Weems ranks second on the Bears in special teams tackles with 10, one behind Blake Costanzo.

“[Weems] has been great,” Toub said. “He’s been a leader for us. He and Blake go back and forth and they are always competing: ‘Who made the tackle? Who is getting doubled? Who isn’t?’ It’s a lot of fun as far as the coverage goes and it’s good to get Weems in the return game.”

Toub has enjoyed working with Weems, who is a feisty agitator on the field. Against the Vikings, he drew a 15-yard penalty against cornerback A.J. Jefferson for a shove after the whistle.

“He’s tough,” Toub said. “He’s real quiet at practice and he’s kind of different. When it’s game time, he’s a lot more vocal, and when he blocks you he lets you know about it.

“He kind of ticks some people off sometimes, and something they push him back and they can’t believe this guy is beating them. He’s a fun guy to be around. He’s been a pleasure to have.”

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