When Eric Weems came to Chicago from Atlanta, he was a Pro Bowl returner. He averaged 25.6 yards per kickoff return and 10.6 yards per punt return. In 2010, he had three return touchdowns, including one in the playoffs.
That was then. In Chicago, the Bears already had a returner. A pretty good one, in fact. His name was Devin Hester. Hester is the owner of the NFL record for combined touchdown returns (18).
In his two seasons with the Bears, Weems has been used sparingly, backing up Hester. This offseason, the team decided to part ways with Hester, so the return job is wide open.
Weems is vying for the return jobs along with four other players. He is part of a group that includes Micheal Spurlock, Armanti Edwards, Chris Williams, and Michael Ford. “We have a lot of experience back there,” said special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis. “There’s a lot of talent and that’s really what you want when you’re evaluating.”
Weems is the most experienced of the group, having 113 kickoff returns and 77 punt returns. He is looking to get back into the return game he loves. “Most definitely I’ve missed doing it,” Weems said. “It’s still in the blood. I love doing it. That’s what I was in Atlanta doing. That’s what I made the Pro Bowl doing. There’s no question in my mind that I love doing it.”
Weems was looking at Domenik Hixon as his primary competition, but he went down with a torn ACL, and his career is in jeopardy. “Hixon was one of the guys we were really looking forward to seeing,” DeCamillis said. “It’s just a tough break for him. He’s been a very productive guy in the league as far as a returner. It’s just one of those things that happens. It’s too bad for him and too bad for us.”
Whoever he needs to compete against, Eric Weems is ready for the competition, and ready to do what he can to showcase his abilities. “I’ve been patient for the last two years and now I feel like it’s my turn, and I’m going to take full advantage of it.”