Santonio Holmes hasn't had much time to impress the Bears. That's never been a problem for the former Super Bowl MVP, who has always done things in a hurry.
Holmes caught a 32-yard touchdown pass from rookie quarterback David Fales and returned a punt 30 yards in Chicago's 33-13 loss to the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night.
One of the few veterans playing for the Bears (2-2) as coach Marc Trestman elected to rest his starter for the final preseason game, Holmes displayed some of the breathtaking breakaway speed that once made him one of the NFL's most dangerous receivers.
In the second quarter, Holmes caught a short pass from Fales, spun away from two Cleveland defenders, including first-round draft pick Justin Gilbert and went into the end zone untouched.
"We saw him take a short catch and turn it into a long play, long gain," Trestman said. "It's some of the explosion we've seen during practice. He's still new to what we're doing, but we'll see where we go and hopefully we'll bring him along as we move forward."
A healthy, productive Holmes could give the Bears another weapon for starting quarterback Jay Cutler, who already has Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery at his disposal.
The 30-year-old Holmes has been slowed by injuries the past two seasons, when he recorded just 43 catches. He was released by the New York Jets in March after four turbulent seasons and signed with the Bears on Aug. 16.
He's looking at Chicago as a new start.
"I really felt in my heart that I could continue playing and given this opportunity to play again, I just really try to take advantage of the opportunity," he said, "and the opportunity came today with me making a big play for the team."
Holmes knew that whenever he was on the field he had to shine.
"The chances were limited," he said. "But at the same time, as a veteran receiver, you go out and make the plays of the opportunities that are being put in front of you."
Trestman sat Cutler and backup Jimmy Clausen, giving Fales, a sixth-round pick from San Jose State, a chance to convince the Bears they should carry three QBs.
Fales made a good case for himself, finishing 13 of 24 for 146 yards.
"He bounced around pretty good tonight, he was on the ground, got back up, made some throws," Trestman said. "He hung in there tough. It's a good opportunity for him just to get a sense of what the National Football League is all about. "
Fales came away feeling he had done all he could to earn a spot.
"I thought I did some good things," he said. "There were a couple plays I wish I would have made a better pass, give the guys a better chance. But overall I thought I did a good job of getting us in and out of the huddle, getting us to the line. I thought we worked really well together."
Trestman's biggest concern might be his defense. The Bears gave up 34 points last week, but that was to the Super Bowl champion Seahawks. These were the Browns, whose offense has struggled all summer yet drove 85 yards on their first possession against Chicago's backups.
Bears rookie running back Jordan Lynch, a star quarterback at Northern Illinois, had 18 yards on six carries and played special teams. He's a long shot to make Chicago's 53-man roster.
"I made the most of my opportunities," Lynch said. "I got a lot of reps on special teams and that's something new to me. I picked up a first down or two. I thought I ran pretty well."
Lynch will have to sweat out the next 48 hours before the Bears make their final cuts. If he's placed on the practice squad, at least he would still be chasing his dream.
"Whatever helps the Chicago Bears win," he said of potentially going on the practice squad. "You have to start somewhere. I kind of see it as getting redshirted in college. Being a competitor, you always want to get out there and do well. I've learned patience through the whole process and I just hope to make the team any way I can."
NOTES: WR Josh Bellamy had four catches for 78 yards. ... Chicago hosts Buffalo in its season opener. ... Trestman said he'll consider Holmes' track record as a return specialist as he finalizes the roster.
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