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Bears roll dice, sign WR Santonio Holmes

ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS MAY 3-4 -FILE - In this Sept. 22 2013 file phoNew York Jets' Santonio Holmes (10)

ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, MAY 3-4 -FILE - In this Sept. 22, 2013, file photo, New York Jets' Santonio Holmes (10) catches a pass for a touchdown as Buffalo Bills defensive back Justin Rogers (26) defends during the second half of an NFL football game in East Rutherford, N.J. Even as NFL teams make a huge deal out of their discoveries from the hinterlands of college football, it's the big schools from the powerhouse conferences that dominate the draft. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File) ORG XMIT: NY207

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Updated: September 18, 2014 6:49AM



With an already gaping hole at No. 3 wide receiver only getting larger since Marquess Wilson suffered a broken collarbone two weeks ago, the Bears took a low-risk roll of the dice and signed 2009 Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes to a one-year contract Saturday.

To make room for Holmes, the Bears cut kickoff returner Eric Weems, whose struggles at wide receiver in the first two preseason games put a spotlight on the dearth of proven receivers behind Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall.

Holmes worked out for the Bears the day after Wilson suffered the injury, but they instead signed ­unknown and unproven second-year wide receiver Greg Herd.

But the extent of Wilson’s rehabilitation after undergoing surgery — the Bears have not announced a timetable, but acknowledged Wilson will miss at least the beginning of the regular season — and the fact no player has stepped up in Wilson’s absence likely forced the Bears’ hand a bit to take a chance on the enigmatic Holmes.

It’s an intriguing option, to say the least. Holmes, 30, is a dynamic, clutch performer whose dramatic six-yard touchdown catch with 35 seconds left in Super Bowl XLIII gave the Steelers a 27-23 victory over the Cardinals in 2009.

The next season, Holmes had 79 receptions for 1,248 yards (15.8 yards per catch) and five touchdowns.

But Holmes also has a history of legal issues and a reputation for being a disruptive personality that have played at least a part in him being dumped by two playoff-caliber teams at the peak of his career.

After the breakout season of 2009, the Steelers traded Holmes to the Jets for a fifth-round draft pick after it was revealed Holmes would be suspended for the first four games of the 2010 season for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.

The Jets cut him in March after four mostly disappointing seasons in which he clashed with teammates and couldn’t stay healthy after signing a five-year, $45 million contract following a solid 2010 season. Holmes played in only four games in 2012 because of a foot injury. Last season, he missed five games with hamstring problems.

Weems, the Bears’ fourth-leading special-teams tackler last season, was given first chance at replacing Devin Hester as the Bears’ primary kick returner and also thrown into the mix at No. 3 ­receiver after injuries to Wilson and Chris Williams. But he struggled in both roles. He was targeted by Jay Cutler three times without a catch in the first two preseason games and fumbled a kickoff against the Jaguars on Thursday.

Email: mpotash@suntimes.com

Twitter: @MarkPotash



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