The Bears love Santonio Holmes.
Chicago signed Holmes, the former Jets wide receiver, during training camp when they needed reinforcements to their receiving corps. Head coach Marc Trestman said the Bears were in need of someone with the “skillset” Holmes offered. So far this year, Holmes has four catches for 41 yards and no touchdowns.
“Since his been in here, he’s done nothing but work his tail off to try to learn and assimilate [into] our offense,” Trestman said. “He’s worked very hard at that and not only have the coaches helped, but his teammates have helped him as well. He’s been very even keeled and hard working since the day he got here.”
While with the Jets, Holmes started strong with a series of fourth quarter heroics that earned him the nickname Tone Time. But after that initial 2010 season, things fell apart quickly. Holmes was kicked out of the huddle and benched after he threw a tantrum in the season finale against Miami in 2011.
His performance would never be the same. He suffered injuries and a contentious relationship with the media would follow. He was popularly termed a locker room “cancer.”
The Jets cut Holmes early in the offseason, jettisoning his bloated contract and oft-injured body.
He had 146 receptions for 2,128 yards and 16 touchdowns in four years with the Jets.
But the Jets teammates he left behind still speak well of Holmes. They aren't effusive with praise, but there's a quiet respect for the player.
Jeremy Kerley was one of those whom Holmes would frequently seek out on the field or in the locker room. The veteran would come up to Kerley and offer advice on running routes, getting off the line or finding separation.
“He was always open to speak and to share. Sometimes it was football, sometimes it wasn't,” Kerley told Metro. “But he was always there, always open to being a teammate.”
Bears quarterback Jay Cutler said Holmes isn't the locker room cancer he's perceived to be. Instead, it appears the beginning of his relationship in Chicago has been cordial.
“He hasn’t said anything to ruffle anybody’s feathers yet. He has been in early, he stays late,” Cutler said on Thursday. “He has had to catch up with everybody else in learning this offense, and I thought he has done an incredible job. He communicated with me what he likes, what he doesn’t like. He gets in games and he just does exactly what we want him to do.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.