Muhammad on WR rap: Prove me wrong

Updated: June 15, 2010, 2:43 PM ET
ESPNChicago.com

Muhsin Muhammad, who once called Chicago the place receivers go to die, said the Bears are on the right track with the hiring of offensive coordinator Mike Martz, but there is still some truth to his comment.

"Prove me wrong, that's all I ask. Prove me wrong," the former Bears receiver said Tuesday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "When I left Chicago I had a [near] 1,000-yard season [923 yards in 2008] when people said my career was over with. I'm looking at guys like Justin Gage who was cut from the team and went on to have a successful couple of seasons with Tennessee and then quite a few others guys -- Bobby Engram, who had a long career, left Chicago and went to Seattle.

"There's some substance to what I said, the comments that were made, and just prove me wrong. I would love to see [Bears receiver] Devin Hester be the No. 1 guy. I would love to see Devin Hester have a successful career in Chicago so prove me wrong."

Muhammad, who announced his retirement from the NFL last week, had three 1,000-yard seasons with the Carolina Panthers from 1996 to 2004, including 93 catches for 1,450 yards in his final season there before signing as a free agent with the Bears before the 2005 season.

His production dropped off during three seasons in Chicago under offensive coordinator Ron Turner.

"I wasn't really a big fan of Ron Turner's," Muhammad said. "We worked together there and obviously had an opportunity to win a championship there. I think some of the things he did with the young crew we had made it complicated. I think Mike Martz is a guy who can come in there and simplify things and still make it challenging for defenses to defend."

That simplification should benefit Hester, who enters his third season as a full-time receiver, a transition that is still a work in progress. Muhammad, who played with a then-rookie Hester in 2006, said Hester has the ability to be a No. 1 receiver.

"Devin is a very interesting guy," Muhammad said. "He's trying to make a change from being a special teams type of guy. One guy who jumps out to me, Steve Smith, who I played with in Carolina for a number of years, was very successful in making that transition.

" I think the thing he had was first of all the ability and willingness to put in the work to make that happen. And second of all, he had a lot of natural ability. I think Devin Hester has all those same characteristics.

"The other part of it is keeping it simple. In Carolina we had Dan Henning who was our offensive coordinator. You don't need a lot of plays or be complicated with what you're doing in order to make plays and be successful . . . Mike Martz is a guy who can come in and create opportunities for Devin Hester, make it simple for him and allow him to play fast and not have to think as much out on the field. If that occurs, he can be that guy [No. 1 receiver]. He has all the physical tools to be that guy."

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