The Seahawks’ search for late-season kick returner replacements has taken them to the same house they visit Saturday.
The Georgia Dome.
And not only have they plucked two former Atlanta players — veteran Devin Hester and rookie J.D. McKissic — they signed the last two Falcons to take a return to the house.
Most of Hester’s potential Hall-of-Fame career came with the Chicago Bears. Nineteen of his 20 special-teams returns for touchdowns came with his first organization.
But after the Bears declined to re-sign him following the 2013 season, Hester signed a three-year deal with the Falcons.
The signing paid immediate dividends as Hester had one of his best all-around seasons in 2014, leading the NFL in kickoff return yardage (1,128 yards). He caught 59 passes for 504 yards and a pair of touchdowns. And he added a rushing touchdown.
In the third week of the season, in a 56-14 Falcons victory over Tampa Bay, Hester returned a punt 62 yards for a touchdown — his last special-teams score to date.
He made the Pro Bowl that season.
But the next season, Hester was plagued by a severe turf-toe injury that required offseason surgery, leading to his release last July.
“They treated me fair,” Hester said about the Falcons. “They are a great organization. I don’t have anything negative to say about them.”
This will be Hester’s first return trip to the Georgia Dome.
“I am in a different uniform, but a lot of guys are still there, so it will be cool to go back and play against them instead of practicing against them all the time,” Hester said. “I am looking forward to it. I know they are thinking the same thing with me, too.”
Hester made his Seahawks’ debut last weekend in the 26-6 victory over Detroit in the NFC wild card round. Hester had one kickoff return for 20 yards, and one punt return for 5 yards.
“That might be the loudest stadium I’ve ever played in in the NFL,” Hester said of CenturyLink Field. “I am hoping we can take that crowd to Atlanta and take over.”
McKissic’s stay with the Falcons was shorter — a little more than four months — but he did have a 101-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Washington in a preseason game before being released Sept. 3.
The Seahawks signed McKissic on Dec. 20 as a potential replacement for the injured Tyler Lockett, who is out for the season with a broken leg. McKissic is Hester’s backup on kickoff and punt returns.
“I appreciate everything Atlanta did for me,” McKissic said. “I knew they had a chance back then to be good.”
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said tailback C.J. Prosise (shoulder) will be a game-time decision after increasing his practice repetitions throughout the week. The rookie from Notre Dame practiced Thursday. ... Carroll said defensive tackle Tony McDaniel (head) cleared concussion protocol, and will play Saturday. ... Backup safety Jeron Johnson (knee) also is good to go Saturday. ... The only Seattle player not to practice Thursday was cornerback Richard Sherman. His absence was not injury-related. ... According to a report from the Sacramento Bee, Seattle offensive line coach Tom Cable will interview Sunday for the 49ers’ head-coaching vacancy. ... The Seahawks took off for Atlanta on Thursday afternoon.