Redskins keep ball from Devin Hester
Hunter Smith punted out of bounds just twice in all of 2009. On Sunday against the Bears, he did it five times. It was all by design, said special teams coordinator Danny Smith, who wanted to keep the ball far away from Chicago's talented punter returner, Devin Hester.
"He's a great player. We have a lot of respect for him," Smith said. "We just try to keep the ball out of his hands and Hunter did a great job.
Hester entered the game with three returns of 40 or more yards this season, including two that went for touchdowns. He had very little chance to add to those numbers against the Redskins.
Among the uglier statistics from Sunday's win: Smith had a net average of 28.7 yards on seven punts. It's his lowest mark in three years in games in which Smith had more than one punt. But when you're aiming out of bounds and not downfield, the numbers won't be high.
"When I was young, I would've been frustrated. But now I see the value in it for the team," Smith said. "I'm not trying to set any records or anything like that, so let's go win the game and do what it takes."
Smith has seen Hester before. When he was with Indianapolis, the Colts played the Bears in Super Bowl XLI.
"I've been in a Super Bowl where we kicked to him on the opening kickoff and he returned it for a touchdown," Smith said. "The idea is, if we can go 20, 30 yards net on a punt and get it out of bounds, that's better than an 80-yard touchdown that would also be a huge momentum shift for their team."
While Smith put five punts out of bounds on Sunday, another was a touchback. Hester had 12 yards on his lone return of the day. He entered the game averaging a career-high 16.7 yards per return.
"Basically, it was, we don't need to let him prove to us what he can do," Smith said. "There's no use in punting him the ball and learning the hard way."
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