As of last Thursday night, Santonio Holmes became a better option than Eric Weems without playing a down. Weems was guilty of fumbling a kickoff and missing connections with Jay Cutler.
Holmes immediately gets a genuine look at the No. 3 wide receiver position. But he does not project to solve the Bears’ problems in the return game, perhaps an indication that they expect the return of Chris Williams from his hamstring strain sooner rather than later. Holmes has not returned a kickoff since his rookie season (2006) and hasn’t returned a punt since 2012, and then only six combined over 2009-10.
But Holmes also represents another piece in a theme with the 2014 Bears.
Emery securing Jared Allen, Tim Jennings, Jeremiah Ratliff, Charles Tillman and D.J. Williams with new contracts was a rebuilding of the defense. But it was also doing it with proven veterans, a win-now organizational statement. No rookie was drafted with the expectation of stepping in as an immediate starter, other than Kyle Fuller as the nickel cornerback.
The depth chart on defense is staffed with youth. But on offense, the premium has been on putting experience behind the starters. After the starting five offensive linemen, the presumptive next four with the best roster spots are Eben Britton (Jaguars, Bears), Brian de la Puente (Saints), Michael Ola (CFL) and Dennis Roland (Bengals). Injuries and performances through the final two preseason games could alter that (rookie seventh-rounder Charles Leno Jr. has shown flashes) but this is not a team prepared to let a bunch of unprovens try to play their ways into the NFL.
Holmes is far from a roster lock, and Josh Morgan is perhaps moving up in the competition for No. 3. But Holmes, like safety Adrian Wilson, represents talent that even at 80 percent of what they used to be, still could be more than many players at 100 percent.