Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said Tuesday that Devin Hester has earned his increased playing time at wide receiver.
While the kick return specialist did appear at receiver during his eight-year career with the Chicago Bears, he hadn't caught more than 26 passes in a season since 2010 and wasn't targeted at all last season. In his first game for the Falcons, Hester had five catches for 99 yards in Atlanta's Week 1 win over the New Orleans Saints.
Koetter said he's been surprised by Hester's route-running ability, catch radius and hands.
"The thinking is simple: All players usually get what they deserve," Koetter said. "Devin has played his way into more plays. I've told you before, when Devin signed here, I was thinking, 'Chicago didn't use him. Why are we going to use him?' And Smitty [coach Mike Smith] was talking to (wide receivers coach) Terry [Robiskie] and I saying, 'Hey, we've got to find some stuff for Devin.'
"Devin has totally earned everything he's got by how he plays in practice. It's true of any player, it just happens that Devin (is) the greatest kick-returner in league history."
Hester's best season came in 2009, when he had 57 receptions for 757 yards and three touchdowns. He's had two catches for 27 yards in the Falcons' two games since the season opener.
- Ben Estes