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Santonio Holmes makes case to stay in Bears’ loss

Updated: August 29, 2014 11:33AM

CLEVELAND — He might be back to his old self. He might not be. But Santonio Holmes hasn’t forgotten how to get to the end zone.

The former Super Bowl MVP, who signed with the Bears on Aug. 16, showed the burst and explosion the Bears are looking for on a 32-yard touchdown catch in a 33-13 loss to the a Cleveland Browns in the preseason finale Thursday night at FirstEnergy Stadium.

Holmes caught a short pass from rookie David Fales at the 24-yard line, made a move to break free and beat speedy cornerback Justin Gilbert — a rookie, but the eighth overall pick in the draft — into the end zone to give the Bears a 10-7 lead in the second quarter.

‘‘It was a slant route,’’ Holmes said. ‘‘I felt the coverage of the defender playing a little bit over top and just made a great play afterwards and finished strong.’’

As a bonus, Holmes added a 30-yard punt return on another nifty move that showed off the athleticism that makes him such a dynamic threat. But it was the catch-and-run on the touchdown that caught coach Marc Trestman’s attention.

‘‘You see the explosion in him,’’ Trestman said. ‘‘He caught a short throw, turned and ran, separated from the defense. That’s a good sign.’’

It was a sign to Holmes that he’s still got it.

‘‘First, thank God for the opportunity that I’m back playing football again,’’ Holmes said. ‘‘[And] Coach Trestman believing in me and Coach [Mike] Groh giving me the opportunity to make this team. The chances were limited, but as a veteran receiver, you go out and make the plays with the opportunities that are put in front of you.’’

It was Holmes’ only catch of the game, and it came at an opportune time. Did he need it to convince the Bears he deserves to stick around?

‘‘That’s a very open-ended question,’’ Holmes said with a smile. ‘‘I really felt in my heart that I can continue playing. I just tried to take advantage of the opportunity, and the opportunity came today with me making a big play for the team.’’

It figures that Holmes will be on the 53-man roster. But that’s still to be determined. He’s not worried about it.

‘‘We’ll leave it up to Coach Trestman to make that decision,’’ Holmes said, ‘‘and hopefully continue where I’m at right now.’’


Twitter: @MarkPotash

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