- Jeff Dickerson, ESPN Staff Writer
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CLEVELAND -- Veteran Santonio Holmes' odds of making the Chicago Bears' 53-man roster increased on Thursday when the wide receiver turned a routine slant route into a 32-yard second-quarter touchdown reception, a sequence that proved Holmes still has the ability to make impact plays at the NFL level.
"It was a slant route and I felt the coverage of the defender; he was playing a little over the top," Holmes said. "I made a couple good plays afterwards and finished the play off."
Holmes admits he hasn't mastered the entire Bears' playbook since he signed with the team two weeks ago, but the former Super Bowl MVP gives the team experience and flexibility, not just on offense, but also on special teams. Holmes followed up his touchdown with a 30 yard punt return, one of the few bright spots in the return game for the Bears all preseason.
"We saw the punt return. Obviously, he did a good job with that," head coach Marc Trestman said. "How far along is he in the offense? Is he really ready to play enough plays to help us in that regard as we start the season? Can he catch some punts? It looks like he can. So we'll have that discussion and try to put it all together over the weekend to get us going moving forward Monday and into practice on Wednesday."
Holmes excelled in the return game early in his NFL career, but generally speaking, accomplished older players tend to lose their zest to field punts and kickoffs over time. However, Holmes' versatility could be a serious asset to the Bears after the team lost numerous core special teams players since the end of last season.
"I wouldn't say I would lobby for it [a role in the return game]," Holmes said. "If the opportunity and the spot opens up and coach wants me to play as a returner; I'll do whatever I can to help the team.
"I really felt in my heart that I can continue playing. Given this opportunity to play again, I just really take advantage of the opportunity. And the opportunity came today with me making a big play for the team."
Bears players are scheduled to report to Halas Hall for a weight lifting session at 1 p.m. on Friday, where the team will begin to trim the roster from 75 to 53 in advance of Saturday afternoon's deadline.
Does Holmes anticipate sweating out the final cuts?
"I still don't think I'm going to be concerned," Holmes said. "I'll leave it up to the coaches. If they want me here, I'll be here. If not, hopefully I'll land a job somewhere else."