Falcons sign former Bears return specialist Devin Hester

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FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — The Atlanta Falcons agreed to terms with return specialist Devin Hester, the team announced Thursday.

Devin Hester: Specialist tied an NFL record with his 19th scoring return last year.  ASSOCIATED PRESS
Devin Hester: Specialist tied an NFL record with his 19th scoring return last year.

Hester, 31, is a three-time Pro-Bowler who spent the past eight seasons with the Chicago Bears. Coming off a dismal 4-12 season, the Falcons are hoping he can bolster a unit that ranked 28th in the league in kickoff return yards and 21st in punt return yards.

In 2013, Hester led the NFL in kickoff return yards (1,436) and total return yards (1,692). In his career, he has 217 receptions for 2,807 yards and 14 TDs.

Terms of the contract were not immediately available.

DOLPHINS: Free agent running back Knowshon Moreno has scheduled a visit with Miami, who are looking to upgrade its ground game.

Moreno, a five-year veteran out of Georgia, had his best season in 2013 when he rushed for 1,038 yards, caught 60 passes and scored 13 touchdowns with Denver.

The Dolphins ranked 26th in the NFL in rushing last year, when Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas were their primary ball carriers.

STEELERS: President Art Rooney II said the NFL has told the team it will not be docked a pick in this year’s draft for coach Mike Tomlin’s foray onto the field against Baltimore last November.

PANTHERS: Signed free agent Jerricho Cotchery to a two-year contract Thursday.

Financial terms of the deal were not released.

CARDINALS: Agreed to a one-year contract with free agent cornerback Antonio Cromartie.

A three-time Pro Bowl selection, Cromartie led the Jets last season with three interceptions.

BENGALS: Signed quarterback Jason Campbell to be Andy Dalton’s backup.

49ERS: Fullback Bruce Miller signed a three-year contract extension, ensuring the team can keep a key member of their running game through 2017.

COURTS: The sentencing of the former Fiesta Bowl chief executive marks the end of criminal cases arising from a scandal that led to guilty pleas by six bowl employees but only one prison sentence.

Former bowl leader John Junker was sentenced Thursday in state court in Phoenix to probation for his acknowledged role in an illegal campaign contribution scheme. A week ago, he was sentenced in federal court to eight months in prison.

MISSOURI PRO DAY: With scouts from more than 30 NFL teams, fans and media packed the school’s training facilities Thursday to watch former defensive end Michael Sam and 14 of his former teammates at the school’s annual pro day.

A little over a month since Sam announced his desire to become the first openly gay NFL player, he lifted 225 pounds 19 times, ran the 40-yard dash in an unofficial time of 4.69 seconds and jumped 30 inches – all improvements from his statistics at the NFL combine.

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