By Chris Emma-
LAKE FOREST (CBS) — Transition never comes easy for anyone. Changing scenery is a tough task.
Even for Santonio Holmes, an eight-year NFL veteran and former Super Bowl MVP, settling in with Chicago will come as a challenge. But he’s ready for the second chance offered by the Bears.
“I’m excited,” Holmes said Monday after his first practice with his new team. “I’m really going to embrace this opportunity and take advantage of it. I’m grateful to be around and look forward to what we have coming forward.”
Holmes was signed to a one-year contract by the Bears on Saturday, with general manager Phil Emery hoping he can become the team’s third receiver and an asset on special teams. On day one at Halas Hall, Holmes was also fielding punts.
The most difficult part of the transition to Chicago will be growing accustomed to a complex offense run by coach Marc Trestman, plus becoming acclimated with new teammates who have been together for a long time. Holmes is confident he’ll fit in, but the playbook will take plenty of work.
“As much time as I want to spend in the playbook, which consists of all night and all day,” Holmes said.
Holmes will be tested in his preseason work with the Bears. He’s fresh off two offseason surgeries on his grade-four Lisfranc injury. Still, Holmes believes he’s at full health.
Adding Holmes is a low-risk move by the Bears, taking a chance on a former star receiver. If he works as a receiver or even just in special teams and stays in good favor with the locker room, it’s a win.
Holmes worked out for the Bears during training camp — following the broken clavicle to Marquess Wilson — and the team believed it could be a favorable move.
“We’re just trying to find as much value in him as we can as we move along,” Trestman said. “He’s certainly come with a willingness to help.”
Holmes does come with a past that has seen turbulence. He most recently fell out of favor with the Jets after four seasons in New York, and most NFL teams backed away from him as a free agent. The Bears feel their chemistry will fit well with Holmes, who’s focused on the future.
“That’s in the past,” Holmes said. “It’s neither here nor there right now. Being in this new organization is a new move for me. It’s a great opportunity for me to take advantage of and be a part of a great organization.”
Added Trestman: “People change. They get into new environments. … We feel he’s coming into a great place, a great locker room.”
Trestman will work to grow a relationship with Holmes. It’s a different story for Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, who coached at Ohio State when Holmes was a Buckeye.
“I’ve always been a Santonio Holmes fan, since the Ohio State days,” Tucker said. “We’ve had success there. I was happy to see him come.”
The transition for Holmes is just beginning, and it won’t be easy. His role has yet to be determined, but hard work will be the deciding factor.
Holmes is just excited for a new opportunity with an organization that believes in him.
“It’s going to be fun this year,” he said. “That’s all I have to say about it.”
Follow Chris on Twitter @CEmma670.