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updated: 8/18/2014 8:12 PM

Holmes plans to make Bears' No. 3 WR job his

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  • Santonio Holmes

    Santonio Holmes
    Associated Press/2013 file

  • Former New York Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes

    Former New York Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes
    Associated Press/2013 file

  • Former New York Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes

    Former New York Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes
    Associated Press/2013 file


In Santonio Holmes, the Bears hope they get the talented, veteran wide receiver who has amassed 381 career receptions for 5,963 yards, a 15.7-yard average per catch and 36 touchdowns in nine seasons.

But they also hope he checks his extensive baggage at the entrance to Halas Hall.

Holmes has feuded with teammates and coaches, been suspended for four games for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, been charged with domestic abuse (although those charges were dropped), and been arrested on charges of marijuana possession and disorderly conduct.

After his first practice with the Bears on Monday afternoon, the 30-year-old Holmes was asked if he felt obligated to convince his new teammates that he isn't the disruptive locker-room presence critics have accused him of being.

"Nobody has talked about it; nobody has brought it up," Holmes said. "So it won't be an issue here."

He might be right. If Holmes is a good soldier, plays up to his potential and becomes the reliable, productive No. 3 wide receiver the Bears need, his past won't become an issue.

General manager Phil Emery and head coach Marc Trestman are either convinced that Holmes is a changed man, or they're desperate for someone to fill the void left by the injury to Marquess Wilson. The second-year player was the presumptive No. 3 until he suffered a fractured collar bone Aug. 4. Veteran Eric Weems was a contender until he was cut over the weekend.

Holmes still has to learn the playbook, but he says he's fully recovered from foot and hamstring injuries that have plagued him the past two seasons. Once he's up to speed, Holmes has better credentials than any of the Bears' other contenders, although another veteran, Josh Morgan, is currently the top dog.

Trestman is willing to give Holmes a shot, although the Bears declined to sign him when he first was granted a tryout almost two weeks earlier, shortly after Wilson was hurt.

"I've spent time with him," Trestman said. "People change; they get into new venues, new environments. You're out for a while, you get a hard look at where you are. Not only in your work life (but) in other aspects of your life.

"We feel he's coming here in a good place, he's coming into a great locker room. Guys have reached out to him and are willing to help him and give him an opportunity to help our football team, but it will be a process and it will be day to day."

Holmes admits that he's coming in with something to prove after catching just 43 passes over the previous two seasons, when injuries cost him 17 games.

"You have to prove yourself every day, whether you're a nine- or 10-year vet, or if you're a first-year rookie coming in," said the 5-foot-11, 192-pound Holmes. "Each and every opportunity that presents itself in front of you, you have to be willing to take advantage of it."

Holmes should know, considering he has squandered plenty of opportunities in the past. Pittsburgh couldn't get rid of him fast enough after the 2009 season, the best of his career (79 catches, 1,248 yards), which culminated in a game-winning catch and MVP award in Super Bowl XLIII.

The Steelers took a fifth-round pick to dump him on the New York Jets, who cut him with a year left on a five-year, $45-million deal.

"That's in the past," Holmes said. "It's neither here nor there right now. I think being in this new organization is a new move for me and a great opportunity for me to take advantage of and be part of a great organization."

Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker was on the Ohio State staff when Holmes played there, and he faced him twice a year, when he was the Cleveland Browns' defensive coordinator and Holmes was with the Steelers.

"I've always been a Santonio Holmes fan, since the Ohio State days," Tucker said. "We had success there, and so I was happy to see him come. It was not fun coaching against him when I was in Cleveland. He was not a guy that you were looking forward to facing."

Holmes also has been a guy whose own teammates did not look forward to seeing, as when Jets players accused him of quitting in the 2011 regular-season finale. His behavior in that game eventually got him benched.

Now he's got another opportunity, and it may be his last.

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