This is it for Santonio Holmes.
He’s 30 years old and given his injury history and sketchy character record, he’s most likely on his last chance in the NFL. Holmes is in danger of booting himself out of the league similar to former stand out receivers Plaxico Burress, Terrell Owens and Chad “OchoCinco” Johnson.
In this offense, Holmes has the perfect opportunity to reinvent himself and prove to everybody he can be a productive team player. At best, Holmes is the fifth option in the Bears offense but that completely plays to his advantage.
Defenses are going to have to help over the top with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. Just a team’s top two corner will not be enough as the star receivers will see safeties in the picture as well.
Martellus Bennett will draw attention from a team’s best cover linebacker and the occasional safety up the middle. Matt Forte out of the backfield still garners more receptions than Holmes so he will see more attention.
This means Holmes gets the third and sometimes even fourth best corner from the defense. Even in his condition now and reduced role, Holmes is far too talented a receiver to not make plays against average to mediocre defenders.
When Holmes was at his best in Pittsburgh, he was a devastating vertical threat. Not blessed with tremendous speed, Holmes used his quick feet, tremendous savvy and physical ability to get separation and make plays down the field. Expect him to get some looks in the same spot as Brandon Marshall has a ton of experience and success in the slot throughout his career.
With second-year man Marquess Wilson out for an undetermined amount of time, Holmes has to make the most of his opportunity to play well, make plays and show he has at least three solid seasons left in him. Wilson is still the future of the team but might not be game ready until the back half of the season and that means plenty of chances for Holmes.
The competition is not stiff. Josh Morgan and Michael Spurlock aren’t even considered average receivers anymore. Both players have struggled early on to make a name for themselves with the Bears which is the reason why Holmes is here to begin with.
The bar is set at 30 catches for Holmes this season. This of course is speculating he makes the team because that should be a lay up for him. Quarterback Jay Cutler has already proven to be a more patient player going through his progressions this preseason. As Holmes gets more acclimated into the offense Cutler will look to him instead of forcing it into Mashall or Jeffery.
Santonio Holmes has no excuses. Teams weren’t banging on his door to sign him. He needs to see the writing on the wall and come out with a no nonsense approach ready to make an impact. This is his career coming to its twilight and he has to take full advantage of the chance Chicago is giving him.
This can be a win for both the Bears and Holmes if he’s all in. If not, then he gets let go and will likely fade away.