By Brian Hanley-
(CBS) — Bears general manager Phil Emery and coach Marc Trestman best be keeping as close an eye on their receivers as any opposing secondary will this season.
Better that than the Bears being caught in another Martellus Bennett-type soap opera during the season.
A playoff-minded team can get by while a starter serves a short suspension early in training camp. But if one or two big egos are allowed to run a figurative out pattern once the games actually count, things could get more interesting than need be.
Bennett being on his best behavior since being sent home from Bourbonnais for his dust-up with Kyle Fuller is encouraging.
Brandon Marshall’s network TV turn-to-be is not.
Marshall has been a model citizen and superstar talent since joining the Bears. So surprise, at the least, is what the team had to feel when Marshall decided last week he would join “Inside The NFL'” on Showtime this season. His new gig means flying to New York each week, a distraction no general manager or coach would want for any of his primetime players.
“I trust Brandon,'” Trestman said. “He asked me about it. I trust him to make a decision that was in the best interest of the team first. I know Brandon. I know he’ll do that. I have complete faith that the team has always come first, football has always come first to him. I believe he’ll work it out to where it won’t distract him from doing his job.’’
Marshall making his case that the team benefits more than he does in this case might make a good first TV segment, which hopefully won’t be as over the top as his stint on “The View.'” Marshall signed and oversold the actual guaranteed value of his new contract ($14.8 million, not $40 million) on that not-necessarily-must-see look-at-me TV show in May.
Marshall is obviously sensitive to those questioning his “Inside The NFL'” motives. Just ask my friend, Sun-Times columnist Rick Morrissey.
“You need to be very careful how you write this story and talk to me because this could be the last time you talk to me,’’ Marshall told Morrissey. “End of story.’’
Morrissey: “I’m just asking …’’
Marshall: “End of story.”
Time will tell.
As it will with Santonio Holmes, the newest Bears receiver.
Holmes arrived at Halas Hall Saturday with a resume complete with Super Bowl MVP statistics, serious injury history and plenty of character questions.
Quite the trifecta for a team’s would-be No. 3 receiver.
Holmes was named the Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl XLIII in February 2009 after catching nine passes for 131 yards and the decisive touchdown in the final minute of the Steelers’ victory win over the Cardinals.
The Steelers traded him to the Jets for a fifth-round pick in 2010 in the wake of a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
The Jets cut him in March. Holmes played in only four games in 2012 because of a foot injury. Last season, he missed five games due to a hamstring tear. Add accusations from teammates that Holmes quit on them when times got tough both on the field and in the locker room, and one wonders what the Bears are getting into.
“We spent time with him,” Trestman said Monday. “I mean, people change. They get into new venues, new environments. You’re out for a while, you get a good, hard look at where you are not only in your work life, as well as other aspects of your life.
“We feel he’s coming in here at a good place. He’s coming into a great locker room. Guys have reached out to him and are willing to help him and to give him an opportunity to help our football team. But it will be a process. It will be day to day, but it’s off to a good start. We’ll see where it takes us.”
To his credit, Holmes hit all the right notes when talking about his current NFL lot in life.
“That’s in the past,” he said. “It’s neither here nor there right now. I think being in this new organization is a new move for me and a great opportunity for me to take advantage of and be a part of a great organization.”
Holmes seemed sincere when he talked about the importance of earning the trust of his new teammates, most importantly that of quarterback Jay Cutler, if this shotgun football marriage will work between a player wanting to restart a career and a team that needs receiver depth.
“It’s going to be big,” Holmes said Monday. “He knows who I am, and I know who he is. I know what he has to offer and I have to prove to him what I have to offer to the team, which is showing up, being on time, being accountable, catching every pass from him and showing him how hard I want to work on offense.”
Humble pie is tough to swallow for a player who once had a contract with $24 million and now comes to the Bears hat in hand. Brad Biggs, the Tribune’s NFL big foot and Mully and Hanley regular, reported Tuesday that Holmes has signed a one-year contract for the minimum salary benefit. In his ninth season, the minimum base salary is $855,000, and Holmes will count $570,000 against the salary cap.
The deal includes a waiver for Holmes’ left foot, according to Biggs, meaning the Bears wouldn’t be on the hook financially for an injury to that foot. Holmes suffered a Lisfranc ligament injury in his left foot in 2012 that forced him to miss a total of 12 games.
“I’m excited about it,” Trestman said. “I’ve watched him work the last couple days. He’s been out running and catching the ball with Jay (Cutler) and the guys. It’s good to see him out here. We’ll see how it goes. It will be one day at a time — he’s got a lot of learning to do in terms of what we do offensively.
“He’s got experience. He’s an excellent route runner. He’s got good hands. He’s played the game. He understands the game at this level and he had a workout that was relevant enough for us to bring him in here and give him an opportunity to see if he can help us.”
So Holmes, with what Trestman said was a good practice Tuesday, is off on the right foot with the Bears.
Still, Trestman and Emery should be watching for any missteps from Holmes, Marshall and Bennett.
Because when it comes to a final vote on whether this was a successful season, the eyes will have it.
Brian Hanley is the co-host of the Mully and Hanley Show on 670 The Score from 5 a.m.-9 a.m. on weekdays.