CLEVELAND — The last time Santonio Holmes played in a preseason finale, it was 2010 and he was facing a four-game suspension, so he needed the extra work.
This year, he was the most notable veteran who actually did dress for the Bears in their 33-13 loss to the Browns on Thursday, and the wide receiver instilled some confidence that he is worth a roster spot to start the 2014 season.
Holmes made a catch in the second quarter, coming left to right, then spun on a dime and ran to the end zone for a 32-yard touchdown.
"It was a slant route, felt the coverage of the defender playing a little bit over top, just made a great play afterwards and finished out strong," he said.
Holmes then got a crack at returning a punt, something he hasn’t done in a regular-season game since 2010, and he showed off his agility on a 30-yard return.
"It was a designed return," he said. "I just know as a punt returner and being a veteran and doing this so long, you get good blocking from the guys up front first and foremost. You hit the hole fast and you get what you can out of it."
Holmes did get off to a bit of a shaky start, not having a catch on three targets, though Cleveland's first-team defense made things difficult on quarterback David Fales. He showed enough on the touchdown and punt return to call it a night - the Bears saw what they needed to see.
“You see the explosion in him,” Trestman said about Holmes. “He caught a short throw, turned and ran, separated from the defense. That’s a good sign."
Considering the fact that Chris Williams did not break out as a returner or receiver in the game, Holmes should have a roster spot secured, after not being on a team up until two weeks ago.
"[Thanks to] coach Trestman believing me, and [wide receivers coach Mike] Groh giving me the opportunity to make this team," he said. "The chances were limited, but at the same time, as a veteran receiver, you go out and make the plays with the opportunities that are being put in front of you."
Trestman said the staff has a lot to discuss regarding Holmes' potential role with this team, but sure sounded like Holmes will still be at Halas Hall when practice resumes next week.
"We saw the punt return, obviously, he did a good job of that," he said. "How we’re going to use him, we’ll spend some more time talking about it. How far along is he in the offense? Is he really ready to play enough plays to help us in that regard as we start the season? Can he catch some punts – it looks like he can.
"We’ll have that discussion and try to put it all together over the weekend to get us going moving forward Monday and into practice on Wednesday."
Holmes said he's not going to be concerned about what is likely a career-first — waiting nervously to see if he makes the team ("I leave it up to the coaches") — but he can feel good after his Thursday night performance.
"I really felt in my heart that I could continue playing, and given this opportunity to play again, I just really tried to take advantage of the opportunity," he said, "and the opportunity came today with me making a big play for the team."