The Atlanta Falcons placed wide receiver and return specialist Devin Hester on injured reserve-designated to return with a turf toe injury on Tuesday.
Hester will be eligible to return at Tampa Bay on Dec. 6.
Hester, who earned his fourth Pro Bowl berth in 2014, has not played this season because of the injury. He set a NFL record with 20 returns for touchdowns with his 62-yard punt return against the Buccaneers last season, his first with Atlanta. He also had 38 catches for 504 yards and two touchdowns.
The Falcons hoped to avoid making the move with Hester, but he had renewed discomfort when trying to run.
“We have been trying to treat his toe injury the best we could, and he has been doing everything in his power to get back on the field, but at this point we think this is the best plan of action,” coach Dan Quinn said in a statement.
“We are confident this time will let Devin get healthy and be a big contributor to this team once he is back on the field.”
Eric Weems has been Atlanta’s primary return specialist. The emergence of receiver Leonard Hankerson as a complement to Julio Jones has helped to negate the loss of Hester on offense. Running back Devonta Freeman also has been an effective receiver out of the backfield.
The Falcons also signed safety Charles Godfrey and tight end Tony Moeaki and released tight end Mickey Shuler on Tuesday.
Godfrey played with the Falcons and Carolina last season. Moeaki signed with Atlanta in the offseason, but was cut before the season. Shuler was on the roster for only one week.