CLEVELAND – Judging from what they didn’t do Thursday night against the Cleveland Browns – play – veterans Josh Morgan and Michael Spurlock appeared, respectively, to have secured the No. 3 wide receiver spot in the absence of injured Marquess Wilson and the job of returning kicks for the Bears’ struggling special teams.
Meanwhile, what did transpire on the field also pointed toward some solutions needed in sorting out the first iteration of the Bears’ 53-man roster.
Former Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes was in uniform and still trying to land a job competing with receiver/returner Chris Williams. The evening’s events clearly favored Holmes, although final roster decisions are still to come.
“We will leave that up to coach Trestman and hopefully continue where I am right now,” Holmes said.
Holmes, after catching none of the first three passes to him from rookie quarterback David Fales, turned the fourth one into a 32-yard touchdown with some deft moves in the open field against anemic Cleveland tackling.
“You see the explosion in him,” said coach Marc Trestman. “He caught a short throw, turned and ran, separated from the defense. That’s a good sign.”
As notable perhaps, Holmes was sent back to return the first Cleveland punt of the game and delivered a 30-yard runback, the longest by a Bear this preseason.
“It was a designed return,” Holmes said. “I just know as a punt returner and as a veteran and for doing it for so long, if you get good blocking from the guys in front and hit the hole really fast, you are able to do what you do.”
Meanwhile, Williams, in position to nail down the job before a hamstring strain in the preseason game against Philadelphia, struggled to enhance his chances in what appears to be coming down to a decision between himself and Holmes.
Williams caught one pass in the first half for two yards, but mishandled a bouncing kickoff in the end zone on his first chance at a return. He elected to take a knee rather than run the ball out despite needing an impact play at this late point of his preseason. When he finally did return a kickoff, Williams covered 23 yards but only to the Chicago 16.
Williams did slightly better with his second effort, 29 yards out to the Bears’ 29 but then failed to hold onto a Fales pass on the first play after the kickoff. Williams was credited with a second 29-yard return late in the third quarter and ultimately averaged a respectable 27 yards on three returns. Williams is eligible for the practice squad.
Williams’ roster chances were taking an addition hit from a solid performance by Josh Bellamy, who caught four passes for 78 yards, including a 32-yarder in addition to forcing a pass-interference penalty to prevent him hauling in a long Fales throw.
Bellamy returned five kickoffs for Washington in limited play last year, averaging 20.2 yards per return.
“Josh Bellamy got to make a couple of plays; Fales made some plays in the pocket; of course you saw Santonio make a play, too,” Trestman said. “So we’ve got enough things [in the] first quarter to get some things out of the first half.”