LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears don't view the signing of wide receiver Santonio Holmes as a gamble after the controversial former Jets and Steelers receiver was out on the open market for so long.
It is the latest attempt by the Bears to solve their third receiver problem caused by the broken collarbone to Marquess Wilson in practice two weeks ago. They have been working free-agent acquisition Josh Morgan at the position, and several others, but none stepped forward with consistent big efforts to date.
The Bears have a few coaches who have worked with Holmes in the past, including quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh and defensive coordinator Mel Tucker. Guard Matt Slauson played with Holmes in New York.
They think they have a handle on a player who in the past was regarded as a bit of a locker-room lawyer. He and former Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez had a well-publicized falling out, and other players and coaches had problems with Holmes in the past.
"I've always known Santonio to be a straightforward guy," Tucker said. "He loves football, a good teammate ... very coachable guy."
Coach Marc Trestman said he talked with Holmes and is convinced Holmes has put the past behind him.
"I mean, people change, they get into new venues, new environments," Trestman said. "You're out for a while, you get a hard look at where you are. Not only in your work life as well as in other aspects of your life.
"We feel he's coming here in a good place, he's coming into a great locker room. Guys have reached out to him and are willing to help him and give him an opportunity to help our football team, but it will be a process and it will be day to day. But it's off to a good start and we'll see where it takes us."
The subject of Holmes' past problems came up at Halas Hall Monday, and he didn't deny it, but doubts it will happen again.
"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 part of a great organization."
For now, the 30-year-old Holmes appears to be recovered from a Lisfranc injury in his foot that required surgery and then rehab in January and February.
The locker-room dynamic with the Bears will be interesting, to say the least, with Brandon Marshall in the receiver room. Marshall rules the roost among receivers.
"We came in together," Holmes said of Marshall. "He's a great guy, first and foremost. He's a Pro Bowler and he leads by example."
Holmes signed Saturday and since then went on a crash course to learn the offense and try to get to know quarterback Jay Cutler. He said Cutler took him "under his wing."
"He knows who I am and I know who he is," Holmes said. "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."
Holmes has been versatile in the past and can go into the slot, although often the Bears have put Marshall in the slot with the third receiver going outside to his spot.
Holmes won't have much time to learn the offense. He may also need to play special teams if he is to be part of the team. This hasn't been decided. He has returned 66 punts for an 8.1-yard average, but hasn't done it on a regular basis since 2008. The Bears had him fielding some punts right after signing him.
"If it will help the team, I'm all for it," Holmes said. "It'll give me an opportunity to get on the field and showcase what I have to offer to the team, which is being healthy right now."
At this point the possible benefit seems to outweigh the risk. The Bears had been weighing using tight end Zach Miller as a pass receiving threat after his impressive camp and first preseason game. But he was placed on injured reserve after suffering a foot injury against Jacksonville.