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updated: 8/28/2014 10:48 PM

Bears trying to turn special teams woes around

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  • Wide receiver Santonio Holmes torches Cleveland Browns cornerback Justin Gilbert on a 32-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter Thursday in Cleveland. Holmes also had a 30-yard punt return.

    Wide receiver Santonio Holmes torches Cleveland Browns cornerback Justin Gilbert on a 32-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter Thursday in Cleveland. Holmes also had a 30-yard punt return.
    Associated Press


The first step to correcting a problem is admitting that one exists, and special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis had no qualms about doing that when the subject was broached earlier in the week.

"No offense taken," DeCamillis said, when the special teams' shortcomings in the first three preseason games were mentioned. "I'm glad it's happening now instead of during the season to be honest with you. That's how I'm looking at it.

"Looking at it from the positive viewpoint is, we're getting things that we don't want to have happen during the regular season. We can identify them and we can correct them. Sometimes you get a false sense in the regular season going in to where you're not sure where the problems are coming from. So it's hard to fix 'em once you get there. And I think by maybe not playing as well as we should have, hopefully that's putting a little bit more emphasis on it and I think it has been. I think our guys will rally to it, and we're going to get better. I'm going to coach them better."

There was evidence of that Thursday night. Santonio Holmes had a 30-yard punt return and Chris Williams had back-to-back 29-yard kickoff returns.

Punter Pat O'Donnell had punts of 40, 44 and 47 yards with no return and a 52-yarder with an 8-yard return. But late in the game, the sixth-round pick shanked a 33-yarder out of bounds.

Taking a chance:

Wide receiver Santonio Holmes has had past problems on and off the field, but quarterback Jay Cutler believes the Bears have the kind of environment that Holmes can thrive in.

Based on past production, Holmes could pay big dividends for a team like the Bears looking for more depth at wide receiver. That was evident on his 32-yard catch-and-run TD early in the second quarter.

"I think it's a good sign that we'll take some chances on some guys," Cutler said. "We'll bring some guys in because we know we've got a strong veteran group here and some guys that will help young guys or veteran guys along.

"Just knowing (general manager) Phil (Emery), I'm sure he did his background on Santonio and talked to him numerous times and talked to his agent and was very sure when he brought him in here of what kind of player and person he was getting."

Running on empty:

In the competition for the No. 3 running back spot, no one stood out.

Shaun Draughn started and picked up 29 yards on 10 carries. Senorise Perry played next and managed just 14 yards on 6 carries. Former NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch, who didn't get his first carry until the fourth quarter, gained 18 yards on 6 carries.

Sitting it out:

In addition to all the starters, including right tackle Jordan Mills, who missed the first three preseason games with a foot injury, and strongside linebacker Shea McClellin, several other notables did not play Thursday night.

Cornerbacks Kelvin Hayden and Sherrick McManis and linebacker Khaseem Greene sat. Wide receivers Josh Gordon and Micheal Spurlock (also a contender for both kick-returner spots), defensive end Trevor Scott and linebacker Jon Bostic did not dress. Five rookies, cornerback Kyle Fuller, running back Ka'Deem Carey, safety Brock Vereen and defensive tackles Will Sutton and Ego Ferguson also were idle.

Out with injuries were safety Chris Conte (concussion), guard-center Brian de la Puente (knee) and wide receiver Marquess Wilson (collar bone).

The numbers game:

Of the 22 players who started for the Bears in last year's final preseason game, nine were on the opening-day 53-man roster, five finished the season on the 53 and four remain with the team -- center-guard Taylor Boggs, linebacker Khaseem Greene, defensive end Cornelius Washington and cornerback C.J. Wilson.

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