Bears pondering if they should kick to Leon Washington

Are they going to kick to him?

Typically, it’s the question opponents facing Devin Hester are asked every week. The record-setting return man broke out of a two-year slump this season by returning three punts for touchdowns, moving him past Brian Mitchell for the all-time lead in combined punt and kick returns for scores.

But now, as the Chicago Bears prepare for their divisional round meeting with the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday at Soldier Field, they’re asking themselves the familiar question.

Should they kick to Leon Washington?

The Seahawks’ return man is every bit as deserving of a Pro Bowl spot as Hester. He returned three kickoffs for touchdowns this season and has the ability to flip field position just as quickly as Hester.

“We've got to decide if we want to kick to him," Bears special teams coordinator Dave Toub said. "The tables are turned this week."

Washington had three kickoff returns for 75 yards when the teams met at Soldier Field in Week 6 on Oct. 17, including a 42-yarder.

"There will be situations when we want to try to kick away from him in that game with the weather and everything," Toub said.

Much was made of Seahawks coach Pete Carroll saying earlier this week his team would kick to Hester. What else are the Seahawks going to do? They can’t kick the ball out of bounds on kickoffs, and when punter Jon Ryan is backed up deep in his own end, it’s too dangerous to angle the ball to the sideline. So both returners will play a key role in this meeting.

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

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