Bucs aiming to play keep away from Devin Hester

Kick to Devin Hester at your own peril.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers know the drill with the Chicago Bears return man, who has been selected as the NFC special teams player of the week two of the last three weeks.

The Bucs are planning to kick away from Hester, but that’s always easier said than done. When an offense is backed up deep in its own end, it’s treacherous aiming for the sideline. Mishit the ball and the punter could set up the Bears’ offense on the 30-yard line with a short field.

“ No,” Bucs coach Raheem Morris said when asked if his team would kick to the all-time record holder. “Devin Hester will have to go against our Pro Bowler, hopefully our grass skirt guy, Michael Koenen. Hopefully, we can directional kick, do some different things. If we have to kick to him, last week we played (the Saints' Darren) Sproles. He’s another dynamic punt returner and we were able to keep the ball away from him, limit his production, limit his touches. That’s what we need to do because Devin Hester is a great player.”

Koenen doubles as the kickoff specialist for the Bucs. He’s produced touchbacks on 14 of his 27 kickoffs and before the rule change that made it easier this season, he had 51 touchbacks in 2009 and 2010.

“Michael Koenen has been phenomenal with that, with touchbacks, he’s been awesome getting the ball away from people,” Morris said. “You don’t have to kick it out (of the end zone), but when you’re playing a guy like Devin Hester, you prefer you kick it out.”

Koenen has averaged 46.0 yards on his punts with a 42.5 net. The average kickoff return by opponents has been only 18.4 yards.

Follow me on Twitter: @BradBiggs

Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

Upcoming Games

Dec 6th, 1:00 PM

Cleveland +5.5 -110

Tennessee -5.5 -110

@

Dec 6th, 1:00 PM

Indianapolis -3 +100

Houston +3 +100

@

Dec 6th, 1:00 PM

Detroit +3 -120

Chicago -3 -120

@

Dec 6th, 1:00 PM

Jacksonville +10 -110

Minnesota -10 -110

@

Dec 6th, 1:00 PM

Las Vegas -8 -110

NY Jets +8 -110

@

Dec 6th, 1:00 PM

New Orleans -3 -120

Atlanta +3 -120

@

Dec 6th, 1:00 PM

Cincinnati +10.5 -110

Miami -10.5 -110

@

Dec 6th, 4:05 PM

NY Giants +10.5 -110

Seattle -10.5 -110

@

Dec 6th, 4:05 PM

LA Rams -2.5 -110

Arizona +2.5 -110

@

Dec 6th, 4:25 PM

New England +1.5 -110

LA Chargers -1.5 -110

@

Dec 6th, 4:25 PM

Philadelphia +9 -110

Green Bay -9 -110

@

Dec 6th, 8:20 PM

Denver +13.5 -110

Kansas City -13.5 -110

@

Dec 7th, 5:00 PM

Washington +7 -110

Pittsburgh -7 -110

@

Dec 7th, 8:15 PM

Buffalo +1 -110

San Francisco -1 -110

@

Dec 8th, 8:05 PM

Dallas +7.5 -110

Baltimore -7.5 -110

@

Dec 10th, 8:20 PM

New England +6.5 -110

LA Rams -6.5 -110

@

Dec 13th, 1:00 PM

Houston -1.5 -110

Chicago +1.5 -110

@

Dec 13th, 1:00 PM

Tennessee -9.5 -110

Jacksonville +9.5 -110

@

Dec 13th, 1:00 PM

Denver +4 -110

Carolina -4 -110

@

Dec 13th, 1:00 PM

Minnesota +6 -110

Tampa Bay -6 -110

@

Dec 13th, 1:00 PM

Arizona -3 -110

NY Giants +3 -110

@

Dec 13th, 1:00 PM

Kansas City -7.5 -111

Miami +7.5 -111

@

Dec 13th, 1:00 PM

Dallas -3 -110

Cincinnati +3 -110

@

Dec 13th, 4:05 PM

NY Jets +15 -110

Seattle -15 -110

@

Dec 13th, 4:05 PM

Indianapolis -2.5 -110

Las Vegas +2.5 -110

@

Dec 13th, 4:25 PM

Green Bay -7.5 -120

Detroit +7.5 -120

@

Dec 13th, 4:25 PM

Washington +4.5 -110

San Francisco -4.5 -110

@

Dec 13th, 4:25 PM

Atlanta +1 -110

LA Chargers -1 -110

@

Dec 13th, 4:25 PM

New Orleans -6.5 -110

Philadelphia +6.5 -110

@

Dec 13th, 8:20 PM

Pittsburgh -2.5 +100

Buffalo +2.5 +100

@