Rex Ryan to avoid Devin Hester

Updated: December 22, 2010, 3:13 PM ET
By Jeff Dickerson | ESPNChicago.com

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- New York Jets coach Rex Ryan plans to avoid Chicago Bears return specialist Devin Hester at all costs when the teams play Sunday at Soldier Field.

"I think it's pretty safe to say we're planning on not kicking to him," Ryan said Wednesday on a conference call with the Chicago media. "I think you can write that down."

Hester broke the NFL record for career return touchdowns by returning a punt 64 yards for a score against the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night. He now has 10 career punt return touchdowns and four kickoff return scores. The two-time Pro Bowl selection leads the league this year with an average of 16.4 yards per punt return, which marks the highest total of Hester's decorated career.

"I don't think you can deal with him as a returner. It's ridiculous, he's got to go down as the best punt returner in the history of the game," Ryan said. "I have no idea [why the ball keeps going to him.] I hope the ball that we kick doesn't go to him."

Bears coach Lovie Smith said he can't worry about whether the Jets will avoid Hester.

"We can't spend too much time thinking if they are," Smith said. "You just have to assume that they are. And if they don't, you can't do anything about that. We go into [every game] assuming that those teams will kick to him. As you mentioned, the Jets are a good special teams ballclub, so normally a pair of good special teams groups going against each other [will] kick to each other and see what happens."

Jeff Dickerson covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000. ESPNNewYork.com's Mike Mazzeo contributed to this report.

Jeff Dickerson | email

Chicago Bears beat reporter
Dickerson has been the Bears beat reporter for ESPN Chicago since 2004. He also hosts weeknight radio shows on ESPN 1000.

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