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Watching the returns: Rams prepare for Chicago's once mighty return game

Ok, let's just get it out of the way right now...Devin Hester.

By far the Bears most explosive offensive weapon, the Rams will have to account for his lofty returns to keep the Bears from scoring on special teams and give the defense good field position to work with. 

Now, if the Rams offense continues to perform at recent levels, Hester's not such a problem, as the Rams won't be kicking to him very often. But this team, as we know, is always at least capable of nailing a field goal or two, especially in the Dome, so Dante Hall version 2.0 will be a factor. 

Like Dante Hall, Hester and the Bears special teams ain't what they used to be. The Bears average 22.0 yards per kick return, ranked 23rd in the league, and Hester has yet to score a special teams touchdown. That gives Rams head coach Jim Haslett that "little too quiet" feeling. 

The Rams haven't been great against returns, allowing an average of 24.6 yards per kick return (26th). However, they've yet to allow a TD via a kick or punt return. With the league's best punter and a helluva kicker, the Rams have one advantage in that they can control the ball to some degree, getting returns to at least start in a favorable position for the defenders. 

And here, all this ink spilled about Hester, and he probably won't even be the guy the Bears use for returns. According to the Chicago Tribune (via Windy City Gridiron), the Bears are expected to start Danieal Manning as their return man. Although Manning has the better numbers this season, the Rams might be glad not to see Devin Hester on the returns; he scored twice on returns of 94 and 96 yards against the Rams the last time the two teams met in 2006