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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs putting "high priority" on playmaking returner

Devin Hester, who played for Lovie Smith in Chicago, is a free agent this offseason.

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Devin Hester, who played for Lovie Smith in Chicago, is a free agent this offseason.



New Bucs special teams coordinator Kevin O'Dea spent the past three seasons with the Chiefs (2013) and Bears (2011-12).

At both places O'Dea had the luxury of a special returner in Devin Hester or Dexter McCluster.

And while O'Dea is still evaluating the current Tampa Bay roster, as well as rookie returner Eric Page, he said Wednesday it's a "high priority" to have a difference-maker in the return game.

"That's what we need," O'Dea said. "Maybe it’s not the returner. Maybe it is. But we’re looking for those special players who can come in and create that electric atmosphere. Good Lord willing, we’ll get a returner like that. Maybe we have him here. We haven’t gotten with our guys yet, so we don’t know that. I can only look at what in film was going on. I don’t know what schemes were being played. I don’t know what they were being taught and what they weren’t, so it’s not fair to everybody to say, ‘That guy’s here or he’s not.” I don’t know that yet, but we’re going to find out soon, though.”

Both Hester and McCluster, a Largo grad, happen to be free agents this offseason. Wouldn't be surprised if coach Lovie Smith, who knows Hester well, and the Bucs at least explore either possibility. They can not only star in the return game, but potentially fill a need at slot receiver.


[Last modified: Thursday, January 30, 2014 2:49pm]


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