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Bears want more from Hester

LAKE FOREST – Devin Hester is the greatest kick returner in the history of the NFL.

However, that doesn’t mean Hester is immune to making mistakes.

Bears special teams coach Dave Toub said Thursday that he hoped for better decision-making on punt returns from Hester, who signaled for a fair catch Monday against the Detroit Lions when a good return seemed possible.

“He probably made some decisions in that game that he would probably take back,” Toub said. “He might have returned that last one, possibly. But that’s just the way it is.”

Toub said he remained confident in Hester, a three-time Pro Bowl player.

“Most of the time, he’s going to make the correct decision,” Toub said. “We just want him to get that aggressiveness back, and we think we’ll get that sooner or later.”

Hester entered his seventh NFL season averaging 12.9 yards per punt return, but he has averaged only 7.6 yards per punt return in 2012.

Crunching numbers: Quick, name the Bears’ top tackler entering Week 8.

If you guessed second-year safety Chris Conte, you deserve a high five from Staley, the team mascot.

Conte has registered 41 tackles, which is two more than Lance Briggs and four more than Brian Urlacher. Conte is six tackles shy of matching his total from 2011, when he played in 14 games.

If Conte maintains his pace to lead the team in tackling, it would be quite a story. The last player not named Urlacher or Briggs to lead the team in tackling was linebacker Barry Minter in 1999.

Tall order: Bears coach Lovie Smith said he saw parallels between 5-foot-8 cornerback Tim Jennings and 5-foot-9 wide receiver Steve Smith of the Carolina Panthers.

Both players could square off against each other Sunday.

“They’ve been told all their lives, ‘You’re small, and you can’t do this,’ ” Lovie Smith said. “But for them to be playing at that type of level in the NFL says a lot. Two tough football players. It should be a lot of fun watching them.”

Charles Tillman, a relative giant at 6-foot-2, also could line up against Smith on certain plays.

Bears bits: Tight end Brody Eldridge did not practice because he was sick. … Alshon Jeffery remained out because of a hand injury.


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