In seven games thus far, Ravens return specialist Devin Hester Sr. has fumbled four times and lost one, and he is on pace for what would be a career-worst nine fumbles.

Hester shed some light Wednesday on what is ailing him, acknowledging that a pulled groin muscle – not a thigh injury as initially listed by the team – is making it difficult for him to get into position to field punts and kicks.


"It's just moving lateral," said the 33-year-old Hester, who did not participate in two bye-week practices this week. "It's more of my groin area. It's my groin really. I don't know where the thigh came up in this situation. It's more my groin. So trying to move lateral and get in front of the ball has been a little trouble. But at the end of the day, I don't blame the injury for the mistakes that I've made. I've just got to get healthy."

Hester, who still ranks third in the NFL with a 28.8-yard kick return average, said he initially felt an irritation in his left groin muscle during the team's 25-20 victory over the Cleveland Browns on Sept. 18. Then he overcompensated and pulled his right muscle.

Hester fumbled on two punt returns but the Ravens recovered both in Sunday's 24-16 loss to the New York Jets. But special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg said Hester's ability to make a clean catch and maintain ball security during the return is a concern.

"I'm really looking forward to having a healthy Devin Hester up there," Rosburg said Tuesday. "It's affecting him in two ways. One is just his ability to move, and the other is his ability to practice. It's a tough skill, and he needs to practice. The practice he's been getting is in pregame warmup, and that's not enough. So I'm hopeful that in these next two weeks, he'll be able to get healthy and be able to be out there next time and do better in the ball security areas. We have a lot of confidence in Devin. He's a great returner. This [fumbling problem] hasn't been his mark over the years. We anticipate better ball security as we go forward."

The Ravens could turn to Lardarius Webb, who handled punt returns in Hester's absence during a 27-23 loss to the New York Giants on Oct. 16. Rookie Chris Moore was employed for kick returns in that game, and fellow rookie Kenneth Dixon also has experience returning kicks.

Hester said he plans to spend the bye week resting and giving the muscles a chance to heal so that he can contribute to what he hopes will be a significant turnaround in the final nine games for the 3-4 Ravens.

"It's really tough because you can't really be yourself," he said. "It's kind of tough, but it's the NFL. Things come up like this, injuries all over the league, and there's not one team out there that's injury-free. It's just one of those things where you've got to spend more time in the training room and get your body right."

Recommended on Baltimore Sun