By Cedric Williams
The man most consider the greatest kick returner in NFL history will spend at least the next eight weeks on the sideline. The Atlanta Falcons announced Tuesday that Devin Hester has been placed on the Injured Reserved, Designated-to-Return list.
Hester, in his 10th season out of Miami, has yet to play a down for the Falcons this season after aggravating a turf toe injury he suffered last year. The Falcons signed Hester in the offseason following the 2013 season and were pleased with his production last year. The veteran receiver/kick returner, who has scored an NFL-record 20 touchdowns on kick returns, played in all 16 games last year and caught 38 passes for 504 yards and two touchdowns. As a return man, Hester had another splendid season in which he led the league in punt return average (13.3 per), total number of kickoff/punt returns (63), and total combined kick and punt return yards (1,368).
"We have decided to place Devin on short-term IR," Falcons head coach Dan Quinn said in a statement released by the club on Tuesday. "We have been trying to treat his toe injury the best we could, and he has been doing everything in his power to get back on the field, but at this point we think this is the best plan of action. We are confident this time will let Devin get healthy and be a big contributor to this team once he is back on the field."
According to NFL rules, Hester will not be eligible to practice until six weeks has passed from the date that he was placed on the IR, Designated-to-Return List. He will also not be eligible to return as an active player until eight weeks after the date he was placed on short-term IR. That means Hester's introduction to the current season won't happen until the Falcons meet the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on December 6.
Falcons Make Roster Moves
Along with placing Hester on IR, the Falcons made a series of other roster moves which included signing safety Charles Godfrey and tight end Tony Moeaki. Before playing with the Falcons for five games, Godfrey played in seven games with Carolina. He has tallied 372 tackles (289 solo), three sacks, 33 passes defensed and 11 interceptions in his career. Moeaki, who was a third-round pick taken by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2010, has also spent time in Buffalo and Seattle.
The Falcons needed to make room on the roster for new players, so they released tight end Mickey Shuler. Shuler was signed by the Falcons last week after Jacob Tamme needed to sit out to recover from possible concussion symptoms. Perhaps he was let go on Tuesday because the club felt that Moeaki, who has played in 38 games (31 starts) with 88 catches for 1,143 yards and five touchdowns in his career, was an upgrade at the position.
Cedric Williams, a lifelong St. Louisan and proud UMSL alum, has been a full-time reporter/photographer covering St. Louis area sports for nearly two decades. Most recently, he has been working as a credentialed beat writer covering the NFL, as well as college and high school sports for the St. Louis American, Patch.com, and other outlets from around the area. Please share any comments, questions, or feedback with Cedric at firstname.lastname@example.org. His work can be found on aExaminer.com.
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