After practicing with the Bears for the first time Monday at Halas Hall, veteran receiver Santonio Holmes vowed to make the most of the chance he's being given in Chicago.
"I'm excited," Holmes said. "I'm going to embrace this opportunity and take advantage of it. I think it's a great group for me to be around and I look forward to what we have coming forward."
Holmes doesn't expect the transition to be too difficult, though he knows that he must study the playbook day and night, meet with coaches and teammates, and take mental reps during practice.
"It's more so getting in the book and learning, meeting with all the guys and getting to know your teammates, and just learning from how these guys carry themselves around here," Holmes said. "I've been in the league for nine years now, so it's not too bad of a transition."
The Bears hope that Holmes will eventually compete for the No. 3 receiver position behind starters Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. Marquess Wilson had all but secured the job in training camp, but he's out indefinitely after breaking his collarbone in practice Aug. 4. Holmes also fielded punts Monday and could ultimately contend for that spot as well.
Bears coach Marc Trestman told reporters Monday that he's excited about adding Holmes, but declined to speculate about what type of role the 5-11, 192-pounder might fill at this point.
"I've watched him work the last couple days," Trestman said. "He's been out running and catching the ball with Jay [Cutler] and the guys. It's good to see him out here. We'll see how it goes. It will be one day at a time. He's got a lot of learning to do in terms of what we do offensively."
Although Holmes is an established veteran who was named Super Bowl XLIII MVP while playing with the Steelers, he isn't expecting the Bears to hand him a job without him earning it.
"You have to prove yourself every day, whether you're a nine- or 10-year vet or if you're a first-year rookie coming in," said Holmes, who was selected by the Steelers in the first round of the 2006 draft. "Each and every opportunity that presents itself in front of you, you have to be willing to take advantage of it."
In joining the Bears, Holmes knows that forming a bond with Cutler is vital.
"It's going to be big," 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.
"I'm excited to be here with him. He's taken me under his wing. He's talked to me and kept me close. I'm pretty sure it's going to be exciting for us all."
Holmes has had some issues with teammates and brushes with the law during his NFL career, but the Bears are not concerned with his character.
"We've spent time with him," Trestman said. "People change. They get into new venues, new environments. 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. 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."